Late nights reconciling random shots and sound clips: stop that!

When Matt Davis came across the PluralEyes plug-in, he recognized it would enable his guerilla style of shooting by allowing “some really smart software to sort it all out.” Matt explains, “All the key opinion leaders were onto PluralEyes from the start as the one way that made DSLR shooting with audio ‘a workable solution’. Clapperboards? Log sheets? The discipline in shooting to make that work? That was never going to happen for the DV shooters – far too arcane. I joined the industry synchronizing rushes, and I’ve done my fair few late nights trying to reconcile seemingly random shots and sound clips into some sort of order. PluralEyes just stopped all of that.”

As a photography student Matt watched the 1966 feature film Blowup directed by Michelangelo Antonioni about a British photographer's accidental involvement with a murder, and the seeds of a filmmaking passion were planted. The next revelation came with Ingmar Bergman’s 1992 feature, Fanny & Alexander. He recalls, “I couldn’t stop thinking ‘this is what photos should be: presented in a designed sequence, containing the time element and encapsulating motion…’ I dropped Photography and switched to Film.”

Matt’s life is now completely focused on moving images as he heads the full-service production company MDMA Ltd from his hometown of London, UK. He creates short- and long-form international corporate videography, but also offers training in editing and camera operation to others who share his enthusiasm for digital images.

Matt writes treatments, directs and shoots footage – sometimes with additional camera operators, edits and polishes the final story, and delivers videos in a variety of formats for individual entrepreneurial clients and sizeable corporations including Cisco, IBM and Sony.

Depending on the assignment, he switches between his Sony PMW-EX1 camcorder, a Canon Rebel T2i DSLR, and a Sony NEX-FS100 camcorder to produce event summaries, educational and marketing videos, and digital presentation material of all kinds. He trusts a Zoom H4n audio recorder to capture sound, and completes post-production using Final Cut Pro, Apple’s Motion, and Adobe After Effects.

As a video enthusiast serving the technology arena, Matt is immersed in leading edge conversations about his field. And yet he recognizes that technology is only part of the process. “I love telling stories. I love delivering a sequence of experiences that add up in the audience’s mind to something bigger than a few spoonfuls of entertainment. I think it’s like how a chef will create a banquet, not just a recipe or a course. What I really love is that moment when the audience goes ‘aha!’ – all the connections, all the little surprises and twists align for them and they ‘get’ it.”

Matt’s biggest challenge as a one-person enterprise is in juggling the quantity and variety of jobs that come along. His is continually on the lookout for workflow improvements that speed up his process so he can deliver increasing value to his clients. MDMA is becoming known for on-site editing and same-day delivery, which requires the utmost efficiency. “There’s so much cool technology we’re using now, it’s hard to stop and say ‘I don’t think that’s possible’.”

As a corporate filmmaker, Matt compares his role to that of a graphic designer. He takes others' ideas, and shapes them into visual presentations for a broad audience. A particular skill is in bringing visual interest to stories told primarily through talking heads. His eye for movement and his sense of fun ensure stories are told with vibrancy and hold a viewer’s interest.

Matt balances his corporate work with inventive projects that satisfy his filmmaker’s creativity – where he steps out of the designer's role and becomes the artist. He considers all technological mediums fair game for sharing ideas. “… The artist in me is getting impatient to tell some stories that I have. Will it be documentary? Will it be narrative? Will I even use film? I love well-presented audiobooks and may just make the biggest movie imaginable that’s presented as a stereo audio file.” We’ll be watching for that one!

Find more of Matt’s work on his Vimeo channel and keep an eye out for upcoming projects from MDMA.

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC home.

Startup Weekend Vancouver: myBestHelper.com

"What did you do over the weekend?" Well, how about start a company! That was the objective of 14 teams that recently participated in Startup Weekend Vancouver.

Startup Weekend is a global network of leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower people with entrepreneurial ambitions.  They give the participating teams just 54 hours to put together their concept for a startup, in a supportive mentoring environment.  At the conclusion of the weekend, they compete for prizes in a final presentation show down, with just four minutes to pitch their ideas, and another four minutes to respond to questions from the panel of judges.

The first place winner of this year's Startup Weekend Vancouver was myBestHelper.com, with their concept of a networking site that connects people in need of home help with locally available helpers looking for work, using an eHarmony style approach to finding a good fit.  myBestHelper went on to compete in the global startup "battle" with winners from 34 other Startup Weekend events, placing 10th.  Not bad for a weekend!

With several groups recording video at this packed event, this was also an opportunity for us to exercise Presto's ability to work with multiple presenter angles, and to leverage Presto for OS X new found integration with Adobe Premiere Pro to put the whole thing together.


Real-Time Editing and Immediate Video Release

Adam Wygle and Bryan Zug make up Bootstrapper Studios, a video production company forming part of the new wave of real-time editing and immediate video release. Located in the vibrant tech community of Founders Co-op in Seattle, WA, they work fast and inexpensively to capture the momentum of an event as it’s occurring, and to give participants instant tools for sharing their experience.

Seattle is host to numerous start-up forums and at Startup Weekend Seattle EDU in September, Bootstrapper documented the progress of contestants who built web or mobile applications over the course of a weekend. Throughout the 54 hours Adam would regularly pull someone from each of the 15 teams and ask the questions: What have you done since we last talked? What are you working on now? What’s blocking you?

Adam describes his workflow: “I’d have an H4n Zoom audio recorder, hit Record on that, let it sit there and just run. Then I didn’t have to think about it. Then whenever someone walked up to the camera, I’d hit Record on the camera. When they walked away I’d stop the recording. We’d shoot fifteen different people over the course of 20-30 minutes. We did it really fast because each person only had 30 seconds. At the end of one of those sessions I’d go back to the computer, dump my camera and audio footage, throw it in Premiere, export it so PluralEyes could look at it, render it and I was done.” The cycle was repeated every two to three hours. By Sunday night all footage was synced, assembled, and ready for release as soon as the final pitches occurred and winners were announced.

Adam adds, “Without PluralEyes I would have had to cut audio between each interview. I wouldn’t have been able to just turn the mic on and let it go. We would have had a clapper or have the interviewer do a clap in front of the camera, then I’d have to go back and sync it all up. That would have made the process between sessions a lot more time consuming with fifteen different clips, especially considering that fourteen of them weren’t going to be featured right away. The idea was that we could get the video out right away.”

Adam and Bryan work predominantly as a two-person team and stay effective because all their technology is digital. They reach for a Canon T3i DSLR camera, or a Canon Vixia HF20 camcorder, and use a wireless handheld mic, or a boom or lavaliers to record to the Zoom H4n. Their favorite new acquisition though, is an ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher from Blackmagic Design. It allows for four SDI inputs, four HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) inputs for cameras or computers, and is used for event streaming and live switching.

“We have the problem first and then we go looking for the solution,” comments Adam. “We used to run a Mac pro tower that had multiple HDMI cards in it and the process was so complicated, there were so many moving parts, there were so many things that could go wrong. When we started using this, the speed at which we could get up and running increased by 50 percent. We went from three to four hours set up time to two hours.”

In the early- to mid-90s Adam remembers how his dad was baffled by all the advertisements that had web addresses in them. Adam predicted a time when URLs would become standard business practice, and his eyes are again on the future where he sees that anyone without video on their websites will soon be left in the dust.

It was an easy decision for him to accept Bryan’s invitation to turn his passion for video production into a business as more and more people began asking for his services. “We’ve got a small studio in the heart of the startup world in Seattle. We’re using gear that would have cost thousands and thousands of dollars a few years back. What would have been an HD television station truck - you know those big semi-trucks - we’ve got that in a box that’s sitting on my desk.”

Adam also experiments with video innovation in his rare free time by creating music videos of local Seattle bands using his All Cameras On approach. With the band’s permission, he asks everyone at the concert to record a few songs using their handheld devices. If the venue has a professional recording facility, he’ll ask if they can turn it on to capture a good quality audio track. Then he collects all the various footage and edits it together for unique, collaboratively generated music videos that reflect the audience’s authentic experience.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s time consuming so I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like to. Each one takes a little bit more time than the last one because I add more complicated things, but I also shave time on some other things, like creating templates. I use this as a way to teach myself the tool of Adobe Premiere … I’m definitely going to be using PluralEyes on these from now on!”

Adam’s enthusiasm for his work and the success of Bootstrapper Studios are a direct reflection of their personal love for the tech and creative community in Seattle. “There are lots of fun, different things we can do with social media. With our clients we’re more partners than we are the help. When we go to some of these events, they’re events that we want to be at. It’s really exiting for us.”

Check out HiveSeattle and IgniteSeattle for more insight into Seattle’s tech community and Bootstrapper’s work. 

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC home.


MoMoVan: Ryan Storgaard on Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)

In our latest instalment from MoMoVan (Mobile Monday Vancouver), Canada's lead technical evangelist, Ryan Storgaard, talks about Microsoft’s strategy for Windows Phone and the opportunity it offers to mobile app and game developers.

Microsoft’s latest release is Windows Phone 7.5 (coded named "Mango"), which continues to garner rave reviews from customers and critics as it edges its way into a crowded and complicated mobile marketplace. With 40,000 apps now in the marketplace, a significant global partnership with Nokia, and integration with Xbox Live and Microsoft Office, there is no doubt Microsoft is making a deep commitment to Windows Phone. With its innovative approach to weaving apps, tasks and experiences together into Live Tiles and Hubs, Windows Phone is aiming to differentiate itself as a fresh and exciting platform for consumers and developers.

We also hear from Miles Donald of Nokia's Partnering Team, who is also based in Vancouver. Miles brings us up to date on Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone devices including the Lumia 800, and explores the opportunities for Nokia developers afforded by the partnership with Microsoft.

(We had some problems with the lapel mic for this recording, so our apologies for the intermittent bursts of static).


Automatic Sync Gives Editor a Week of His Life Back

What do you do if you're starting post-production and realize you have to organize hundreds of audio files with no timecode, useful metadata or even names? Todd Batstone is the lead editor of an independent feature film called Dreadful Sorry, which he’s making with friends from his days as an actor and theatre producer in New York. As part of a grant from the South Carolina Film Commission, the production became a teaching project for students at the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences.

Dreadful Sorry - Behind the Scenes - Video 4 - "The Future"

The footage was beautifully shot by veteran cinematographer Dan Kneece who used the new ARRI ALEXA camera, but when Todd opened the files to begin preparing them for editing, he found the students on set had named none of them. He was looking at three gigabytes of wave files with no indication of their corresponding scene or take.

Todd edits in Avid in his professional life, but was cutting Dreadful Sorry in Final Cut Pro because of the file format. Without an assistant, he faced weeks of manually searching for and synchronizing hundreds of files. It wasn’t until two days into the workload that he remembered the PluralEyes plugin for synchronization, and verified that it also works with FCP.

Todd recalls, “That was the lifesaver. I'd still be sitting here probably automatically lining these clips up and syncing them, and more than that, playing each one of them down to discover which tape it corresponded to, and there's several hundred files. I really put it to the test.

“I literally pulled almost every single clip, put them in a sequence, then dragged every single audio file into that sequence. Then let PluralEyes run. And it's magic ... you're looking at maybe 180 or 190 sound files and it matches them up with the wave form from the reference audio, and suddenly, magically you have this sequence with synced audio.”

Todd was so relieved with the solution that he wrote to Singular Software. “I just had to tell these people what this is doing in the real world, what the field experience is from somebody who really appreciates it and is having a very real world experience of the power of the application. I'd say it gave me a week, probably seven to eight actual working days of my life, of my editing life back.”

Dreadful Sorry is a suspense thriller seen through the eyes of a ten year-old girl who returns to her father at the family's plantation house after being sent away for seven years during the Civil War. Far beyond just synching clips, Todd is intrinsically valuable as a creative editor who collaborates with his director to write the final version of the story.

He explains, “There's just something about having been a performer and knowing what it's like to be in a scene with somebody, and having to listen to them, that lends itself to understanding the importance of creating a good rhythm in the editing room and creating a good rhythm with their performance.”

Todd first learned about PluralEyes as a member of the editing team on the new scripted MTV series called Death Valley, produced by Liquid Theory. Death Valley was shot in Los Angeles on the RED digital camera and edited in Avid. For the first week of shooting there was a problem with the jam synch so the time code on the audio and video files didn’t match up. Finally someone researched synchronization solutions and discovered the PluralEyes plugin.

Death Valley trailer for MTV

Todd recounts, “It saved our ass for a week until our production got back on track. That was my introduction to it, and the timesaving nature of it. If we hadn't had it we’d wind up syncing these things by hand, like the old days on a Moviola where you’re moving your film along on these plates, and moving the sound along until you get to the marker. We did that for a day or so because we didn't want to fall behind. It's an unreasonable, and tedious, and horrible process.”

Todd balances freelance work with his projects at Liquid Theory in L.A. Dreadful Sorry is sparking ideas for more independent collaborations with like-minded creative friends. “We have this pool of talent to pull from to begin to develop and create our own stuff … Conversations have been about what's the next project going to be for all of us, the people in our network who have known each other for all of these years, who've spent that time training, working for other people, and working in film and TV and theater. Now, we’re ready to pull all of those resources together and present something to the world.”

Follow Dreadful Sorry's progress through their production blog and FaceBook page, and catch Death Valley Monday nights on MTV - and keep an ear to the ground for Todd Batstone’s next creative revelation.

Comic Con Sizzle Reel edited by Todd Batstone

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Consultant and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC home.


Rob Hunt’s fantasy-comedy webseries for geeks of all kinds

How do military training, a Dungeons & Dragons hobby, and an acting/writing girlfriend come together when you’ve graduated with a computer science degree? If you’re Rob Hunt of Vancouver BC, you form Phasefire Films and engage all your creatively-minded friends to help make a fantasy-comedy webseries called Standard Action.

In his last semester at University of Victoria, Rob chose a filmmaking class as his final elective. Encouraged by the instructor’s ‘go nuts with it’ attitude, Rob embraced the camera and taught himself to edit in the school computer lab. He recalls, “That was a real opening up for me, I realized I can make stuff on my computer and I don’t even have a two thousand dollar computer. That was where a lot of it came from, just this realization that I could do this without having fifty grand.”

Rob used his graduation gift money to buy a video camera and gained inspiration from reading Rebel Without A Crew by Robert Rodriguez and The DV Rebel's Guide by Stu Maschwitz. After a year in England while his girlfriend Joanna Gaskell completed her master’s degree in theatre, the pair returned to Vancouver, gathered up their friends, and got busy.

Rob’s first feature-length project, A Mythology Of Revenge, was made for less than $5,000 and shot with a Cannon HV30 camcorder. Joanna acted the leading role, and Rob served as Writer, Director, Producer and Cinematographer. He then took on The Director’s Project, filmed in the summer of 2010 using a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, and a growing circle of film-loving friends. Joanna acted, and Rob was Director and Producer.

It was on the last day of filming The Director’s Project (TDP) when Rob and Joanna admitted their love of Dungeons & Dragons to actor Edwin Perez that the seeds of Standard Action were born. Joanna had been writing short practice scripts based on D&D characters that could be filmed in the forests of BC. Edwin, also a D&D enthusiast, revealed his talent for thrifty costume design, and the TDP makeup artists were invited to indulge their love for making monsters.

Initially the ten-minute episodes were posted online for fun, and intended to provide demo reel material for all involved. But as happens with the World Wide Web, fantasy fans discovered the show, and the story continued to evolve.

Standard Action is a webseries that celebrates nerd culture and independent filmmaking. It follows the exploits of four hilariously inept Adventurers and makes reference to the worlds of other fantasy and sci-fi series. Fans love the private jokes and the acknowledgement that life isn’t always easy for characters with social hang-ups.

Joanna has taken over producing duties allowing Rob to focus on production. They write collaboratively and edit together, and every actor on screen also doubles as a crewmember. Rob credits his university job in the militia with how smoothly the team works together. “A lot of the leadership skills I use, I learned in the army. I know people perceive the army as yelling a lot, but a lot of it is working really well as a team and treating your team members properly. I think applying that and giving people authority over their own areas, and allowing them to take ownership … we just offer a creative outlet for people and we treat them really well.”

Half way through making the series, Rob attended a BC Professional Videographers Association panel with his employer, Shawn Lam Video, and he heard Bruce Sharpe talking about PluralEyes. Rob was familiar with the plug-in at work where he uses Adobe Premiere to edit multi-camera event productions, but he didn’t know about DualEyes, the stand-alone software that provides features attractive for a low budget filmmaker.

Rob says, “It’s just been amazing since then. There’s maybe sixty clips an episode and I would have to spend ten minutes on each finding the audio clip, matching it, and synching it. Now it’s like ten seconds. I can play a lot more video games now. Quality of life!” Joanna realized the time-saver meant she could write more complicated structure into each episode, and they now average eighty clips per fourteen-minute episode.

Rob uses a Zoom H4n audio recorder and boom microphones, and his Canon T2i outfitted with Magic Lantern firmware for additional features like zebra striping and focus assist. His post-production toolkit includes Adobe Premiere, After Effects, DualEyes, and Audacity for audio cleanup.

The biggest challenge with the web series is the minimal budget, which is predominantly used to pay honorariums to his cast/crew for their time and dedication. For season two, Rob would love to upgrade his camera, invest in a few more lenses, and build some new costumes and weaponry for the characters.

Joanna and Vanessa Driveness – who has added Associate Producer/Marketing and PR Manager to her original credit of Costume Design/Wardrobe – have gotten busy on the crowd-funding platform IndieGoGo, with a fundraising goal of $10,000. The women are also responsible for Twitter and FaceBook activity, which has brought speaking opportunities at recent and upcoming fan conventions.

At VCon 2011 Rob shared the stage with a co-panelist and then discovered she was heading off to edit The Avengers movie. “I’m like, Oh My God, she touched me! It means a lot when people who are working on these incredibly amazing projects turn around and say, ‘Hey your stuff’s not bad’”. One of Rob’s greatest joys is seeing his friends and crewmates enjoy the appreciation of fans.

The first season of Standard Action is online at watchstandardaction.com. With the money raised on IndieGoGo, Rob and Joanna will make the second season longer, bigger and better. Their goal is another full-length season of twelve episodes, each ten to fifteen minutes in length, all continuing to be free and available online.

As soon as the resources are gathered, Rob and Joanna will lead their team back to the woods. He comments, “While I was in the reserves I used to go away for one crazy weekend a month where we wouldn’t sleep and we’d do these eighteen hour days, and there would be this real camaraderie and teamwork. And now doing this with Standard Action, once or twice a month we’ll go away into the woods and film for fifteen hours and there’ll be more camaraderie. I’m also really good at standing around in the rain, thanks to the military.”

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Consultant and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


Not Your Average ‘Daily’ Grind

The Daily is the first tablet-native national news brand that is publishing exclusively for the iPad. Launched from scratch on February 2, 2011 by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., The Daily has received kudos from a variety of big names.

It’s no secret that The Daily’s content recipe is quite unique. What makes it different are the various components – part magazine (for depth and quality), part newspaper (delivered daily) and part online property (updated in real-time). Peppered among these elements are dashes of interactivity – unique videos, photos, and built-in apps (yes, apps within the app).

And what keeps readers coming back for more? It’s The Daily’s A+ journalists and interesting feature articles and series. Take “Rocket Across America,” for example, where The Daily reporter Justin ‘Rocket’ Silverman travels across the U.S. covering all aspects of American culture. Traveling west from his NYC home base, Silverman has done everything from walk on fire in Ithaca, New York to Outhouse Racing in Des Moines, Iowa.

As a video editor at The Daily, Jonathan Tortora’s job is to make sure all of this content – filmed in office or captured remotely by Silverman and countless other reporters – is edited, polished, and turned around as quickly as possible. We caught up with Jonathan recently to ask him how it all works.

So Jonathan, what is it like being a part of the e-newspaper revolution?
It has been an amazing experience. The Daily is a wonderful outlet to be a part of the new media and technology frontier. I originally came from the television broadcast industry, so this was just something I stumbled into – and I’m so happy I did. It is refreshing to create the unique, engaging material for The Daily, everyday.

Recent statistics show that although the traditional newspaper industry is faltering, their online counterparts are posting double-digit growth. Do you believe the next frontier for newspaper publishers is to shift emphasis from online formats to iPads?
I think that eventually traditional newspapers will catch on to this new media trend. Apple revolutionized the way people consume media. We have the capacity to tell stories in a way no one else can and the consumer is responding to that. The work of our design team is groundbreaking and takes interactivity to the next level. Readers now want to be immersed in the content – whether it is touching hotspots with their fingertips or scrolling through interactive picture galleries the design helps to bring the viewer inside of the content. You can check out some of our coolest design features on The Design Blog.

If the top ten newspapers were to shift to the iPad, what do you think would differentiate The Daily from its competition?
The Daily started on the iPad platform, we were born for this! We got here first…and we’ll continue to create top notch content so the app is the best it can possibly be.

What are some examples of stories and series you work on for The Daily?
Our team is out in the field everyday trying to grab new content. For example, in the past few months, we have covered everything from an Angola Prison to a window washer who works suspended 90 stories above New York City.

One of the series that caught our eye was “Rocket Across America.” Can you tell me a bit more about this?
Sure – it is actually one of my favorite series I’ve worked on thus far at The Daily. Justin ‘Rocket’ Silverman went around the county doing pieces from the road about the people he comes across. We call the series “Rocket Across America” because Silverman who started in New York City and has been heading west and everywhere in between looking for ‘content gold.’

What is your role in making sure that all the footage captured from “Rocket Across America” is ready for publication for The Daily?
My job is making sure that all of the footage we capture can be formatted and polished for publication. To capture each angle of the story we utilize a lot of multi-camera shoots with DSLR cameras.

Since you are working out of New York and Silverman is on the road, how do you work with the footage for a quick turnaround?
For the “Rocket Across America” series specifically, our team’s been doing everything on the road. Our shooter/producer has been shooting with two Canon 5Ds, a Sony EX3, and some GoPros. Armed with a laptop and PluralEyes, he’s been syncing, screening, and editing in the field.

PluralEyes has actually become a necessity in producing material for The Daily. Since we are churning out content so quickly everyday, its ability to save time is priceless.

What happens once the edit is finished on the road?
It gets sent back via ftp and we can make any final changes the same day. On some occasions, rough edits have been sent back via ftp and we’ve completed the edits here at the office. At that point though, all the footage has been synced in the field first.

With so many interesting series and articles – many of which have a unique spin like “Rocket Across America” – how do you view the future of The Daily?
Promising! If we continue to focus on the content and create memorable material day in and day out like we’ve been doing, we will continue to be successful.

For more information about The Daily, please visit http://www.thedaily.com, or download the App from the App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-daily/id411516732


Tim Pierce’s "Winter of Wells" flies from web series to international feature film

Tim Pierce is shooting some of the most beautiful footage of mountaintops and free skiing that a human has captured with a camera. He follows world-class skiers around the globe to the most breathtaking snow-covered peaks and straps himself into helicopters, or perches under crests to catch flyers, or outfits the athletes with helmet cams for stomach-churning POV footage. He edits the videos with a rhythm that intuits and respects the performances of his subjects and brings an audience right into the exhilarating world of extreme winter sports.

photo credit: Miles Holden
Prior to 2011 Tim’s solo work has been short-form web episodes and promotional videos. But this year he has been commissioned to make a feature length documentary film about one of his favourite subjects – the championship free skiing Wells brothers from New Zealand.

Tim began documenting the lives of professional free skiers Jossi and Byron Wells in 2009. He created a series called Winter of Wells (WOW) that began online, was quickly picked up by international sports websites, and then bought by Air New Zealand, and ABC and FuelTV for television broadcast.

Where the online series focuses on the brothers’ travel and competitions, the feature will delve into the history of the family including all four skiing brothers and their parents. Tim says, “You get to live 2011 with the Wells family. That's kind of the key difference to it. And it breaks down everything that goes into competing, traveling, the family dynamics. There are sections on their religion, health, their injuries, psychological problems, brotherly rivalry. It's the story of this family that is incredibly unique. If you've grown up in a family you'll be able to relate to it. And it just so happens that we've got the world's best skiing in there as well.”

Winter of Wells doc teaser

To capture the story as it’s unfolding, and remain adaptable as unexpected events come up, Tim works as a one-man crew. He travels with about five bags of light panels, reflectors, travel dollies, tripods, cameras, lenses and microphones. He shoots with the Canon 5D and 7D DSLRs, GoPro helmet cams, and uses a Panasonic HVX both as a backup camera and as his audio recorder. Tim reveals, “It's got XLR input, so I bring it along and it’s set up as a C camera to use on interviews, but it also runs the mics, and when I import it I just get rid of the video track and just use the audio.”

Tim edits with Final Cut Pro on a 17” MacBook Pro that’s hooked up to numerous hard drives and a large plasma screen so he can check his work clearly. With the series of short episodes Tim was used to shooting and editing in quick succession. For the feature he spends weeks on the road filming, and then returns home to synchronize and edit in longer stretches. He recalls, “I'm sitting here going, I'm gonna have to sync all this up and it's going to be a bit of a nightmare. So I started talking to some people that told me about PluralEyes. Did a few Google searches and looked at some tutorials on it, and saw that it looked like it would save me a bunch of time and hassle. And spending $180 for it (in New Zealand), I figured it was well worth the investment, and really haven't looked back since then. For syncing all my interviews up I just run it through PluralEyes then drop it into my timelines in the doc, and it all seems to be running pretty smooth.”

Winter of Wells Episode 22 - Behind the Scenes of the Documentary

Tim has also been spending time with the Queenstown Camera Company testing development of the new Shotover Camera System, which is being designed specifically for the cinema industry for shooting stabilized aerial footage from moving platforms - primarily helicopters - with no limitations to aircraft maneuver or camera angles.

photo credit: Miles Holden
Tim remarks, “The gimbals are incredible. You can be flying around in a chopper 3 kilometers away with your camera zoomed in on a 290 mm lens and it's rock solid, you can never question the rig. And they're also developing a 3D rig, which hasn't been done for heli before, so that’ll open up this whole new world for 3D heli-filming and stuff, which’ll be crazy.” Some of the helicopter footage will appear in the “Winter of Wells” film.

Tim admits his biggest challenge is staying organized and getting enough sleep amid all the exciting and consuming projects on his plate. This year he also delivered a series of promotional videos for the New Zealand Winter Games, which occurred in August; and has produced an online series featuring the people of his hometown, called “Revealing Lake Wanaka”.

Revealing Lake Wanaka - Martine Harding

The feature version of “Winter of Wells” is scheduled to premiere at the world sales meeting for Amer Sports in Austria at the end of October. Amer is a sporting goods company with internationally recognized brands including Wilson, Arc’teryx, and Atomic – one of Tim’s video and photography clients. From there the film will roll out to international festivals and sports-related events.

This feature doc marks an impressive milestone that has come relatively early in Tim’s career. His first offering was a mountain bike film called “How About It?”, made in 2007 at the age of 19 with friend Chris Arnison and a camcorder. Even in this early video you can see the seeds of Tim’s unique creativity and his eye for framing athletes in their surroundings.

“I do what I love, there's nothing that can beat that. I'm just really, really into sharing stories about subjects, people and places that I'm passionate about. Nothing gives me more enjoyment than seeing that affect other people. And it’s just snowballing at the moment, so I'm running with it, you know, taking it by the horns really.”

Stay tuned to Tim’s blog and the Winter of Wells website for release dates and upcoming projects.

Tim Pierce 2010 Showreel, Zeros & Ones

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Consultant and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


Master of ‘Indie TV’: Joe Wilson and his VMob funders

Joe Wilson is mastering the online realm of Indie TV where serialized stories don’t have to end, audience members become producers by donating funds, and the creator of a star-studded series shares dog photos and talks directly to viewers all over the globe through social media.

When he was in his early 20s, after attending art school to study photojournalism, Joe took jobs as a server and bartender in hotel restaurants. Some of his customers happened to be Mafia members and, although Joe didn’t know it at the time, they would later serve as character references for the web series he is working on now.

Joe experimented with various careers including video installations, acting, screenwriting, stand up comedy, and eventually moved from Boston to Los Angeles. He learned to make short films for the web, and won the Best Short Under Five Minutes award at the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival in 2008 for writing and directing ‘The Swear Police’. In the meantime, he earned his living as a private investigator. It was while undercover on the job one day that he had the idea of combining the resilient genre of mob movies with the flourishing prevalence of vampires. ‘Vampire Mob’ was conceived.

Joe originally planned to make ‘Vampire Mob’ a short film, but upon mining his profuse creativity (and personal knowledge of the mob) he realized there was enough material for an online series. ‘Vampire Mob’ is now the story of a hit man who conveniently combines his night work with his new life as a vampire. His wife, in-laws, colleagues and neighbors make up the cast of characters.

Joe takes responsibility for all aspects of production, but says the biggest challenge is finding an audience in the crowded online marketplace. “Technically it's just a tremendous amount of work and I knew going in that shooting two to three cameras to speed up coverage, to make things look more expensive, was going to be more work in post. But as the storyteller, once you tell the story you've got to find somebody to actually listen to the thing.”

His solution is to dedicate substantial time to conversing with viewers and other filmmakers through Twitter, and sharing clips, blooper reels, photos and thoughts on his blog. “I think the advantage of being one guy is when people talk to me on Twitter they know they're talking to the person who made the show. In most cases that isn't available … And it's worldwide. I talk to people all over the world every single day who've sort of become friends because you know, they see the show.”

The appeal of making a web series is in having complete creative freedom, and not having a defined end to the story - like he would with a feature film. He is also uninhibited by executives or broadcasters dictating the style or content of the episodes. He says, “I do rewrites. I do table reads. So it's not like I think I'm some crazy genius who bangs out one draft and shoots it. But when you're working for a company that needs to make a profit, they need people who think it’s their job to make things that are going to make a profit.” The feedback he seeks from colleagues is solely aimed at telling the best story possible.

Joe filmed the first six-episodes in 2010, acting as producer, writer, director, camera operator, and full post-production department. He used a pair of old standard definition Sony camcorders, and gathered locations and crew from his network of neighbors, fellow comedians and artists.

The accomplished group of ‘Vampire Mob’ performers has collective credits including ‘The Simpsons’, ‘The Bob Newhart Show’, ‘The Sopranos’, and ‘Twin Peaks’. Most recently, Tony-award winning actress Rae Allen joined the cast. “It's just ridiculous the amount of talent that I get to work with on this project,” Joe says. “And everybody is in it just because they like the project; they're all having fun. And that's why I do this. There's no drama on my sets, we're all there to have a good time. Why wouldn't we be? Nobody is making any money. Just go have fun and tell a good story.“

With passionate audience response from wide-ranging viewers, and more story ideas brewing, Joe knew he would need a bigger budget and better equipment for the second season. He got active on Twitter, added PayPal buttons to the show’s website, established a dedicated fan-site, and managed to raise over $10,000 in donations from fans, whom he affectionately calls The VMob. Contributions to the show earn ‘Supporting Producer’ status in the credits.

Joe studied filmmaking blogs and talked with friends to discover the Canon 5D and 7D DSLR cameras. He recognized they would be affordable, nimble, and would probably work with his collection of Canon lenses. He also invested in a Zoom H4n audio recorder for good quality sound, which led him to the PluralEyes plug-in, which proved to be essential for audio synchronization.

Now completing season two using the new DSLRs, Joe directs and shoots along with other camera operators, and still uses gear that any resourceful person could rummage up. “The monitors we have are on-camera monitors. Everything is hand held; there's no tripod in the room. It's all lit with China balls or Home Depot lights, there’s no lighting kit. I either use two 5Ds and a 7D, or two 7Ds and a 5D, all three with a 24-70mm Canon L series [lens] on it because it's sort of the proximity we need.”

After backing up all footage fourfold, Joe employs PluralEyes to sync each camera’s footage separately to the master audio track before beginning his edit in Final Cut Pro.

Season one of ‘Vampire Mob’ is complete and online. Season two is being released serially as episodes are completed. Joe will continue making the show as long as he’s got the resources to do so, and the creative juices keep flowing.

The investment of his highly lauded cast members, and the growing VMob is a reflection of how generously Joe shares his enthusiasm for this project. His blog is full of behind-the-scene anecdotes and personal greetings from Joe and the crew.

“I'm hoping the audience will come and support the show, will share the show, and we'll be able to make something that can continue. Right now we're like a really tiny band that people think makes good songs, but not a lot of people have heard those songs. So it's really just trying to get the word out and let people know, ‘Hey, there's a show for adults out there that's funny, that's got really good acting.’”

Vampire Mob, now in Season 2. If you like your comedy with murder, we highly recommend it.

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Consultant and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


John Jeffcoat turns to hybrid filmmaking for ‘Big In Japan’

John Jeffcoat’s feature film debut as a director was about as successful as an emerging filmmaker from Seattle could ask for. 'Outsourced', which had been shot in India on 35mm film, toured international film festivals, collected awards, and then attracted the attention of NBC who picked up the concept and turned it into a primetime network TV series.

In the wake of this success, John wanted to get back into production on a smaller scale project that would let him get his hands dirty. He recalls, “People started talking about these little DSLRs that were producing amazing images and that kind of intrigued me. I wanted to find a project I could play around with them on.”

'Outsourced' film trailer, directed by John Jeffcoat

He got his chance with $5 Cover: Seattle, a docudrama web series for MTV about thirteen Seattle bands performing and touring over one weekend. As director and camera-operator for all of the 'Amplified Docs' band documentaries, John led a very small crew shooting on the Canon 5D DSLR, capturing audio with a Zoom H4n audio recorder, and editing on his Mac laptop using Final Cut Pro.

John researched the workflow for DSLRs and came across the PluralEyes plug-in that would help synchronize his separately recorded audio and video files. “I used to work as an audio engineer, and I used to do location sound mixing, and a lot of syncing audio - and it always seemed to me there should be some way we could read audio wave forms and make things sync up easily. And when I saw it [PluralEyes] I was like ‘my God, why didn't this come out 10 years ago?’ It would've been so amazing. I edit as well, so when I found it, it was like this thing I'd been searching for for a decade.”
‘Amplified Docs’ Tea Cozies – MTV $5 Cover:Seattle
directed by John Jeffcoat

John is now working on his next feature film, 'Big in Japan', which tells the story of a Seattle rock band that goes to Tokyo for one last shot at international fame. The project is a hybrid of scripted and documentary material and has been financed to date through Kickstarter.

This online funding platform for creative projects allows filmmakers to set up a project profile with video clips, photos and progress reports. Supporters can then pledge money to the film in exchange for their name in the credits or more advanced participation. Kickstarter is a popular alternative to seeking private investment, which usually comes with creative strings attached.

“We had no investors or anyone holding us to anything; it was all donations. It was exciting not to have to worry about a producer or investor not wanting us to go somewhere or do a certain thing. To be able to be your own boss, it's very liberating.”

The band in question, Tennis Pro, played eight high-voltage shows over two weeks in Japan that were covered with multiple cameras. John also directed scripted and improvised dramatic scenes to carry the story forward. With such a mixed bag of shooting styles and limited time to work in, he appreciated not having to slow down to synchronize cameras or to slate on the fly.

He says, “There wasn't a worry about making sure everyone's shooting the slate at the same time, because it was more ‘make sure everyone's got the same audio feed and we'll let PluralEyes deal with it in the edit room’. And that was great because we had a really small crew and didn't have all the assistants we would've liked. When you're working with a stripped-down crew tools like that are so great.”

Currently on a writing sabbatical with his family in South Africa, John has already begun editing the feature in advance of a second shooting trip to Japan scheduled for the fall of 2011. He and his assistant editor, who is based in Seattle, have mirrored hard drives of all the footage. They work on separate scenes and share project files through Dropbox to view each other’s work. John’s post-production toolkit includes PluralEyes to sync footage, Final Cut Pro to edit, and Magic Bullet for color timing and correction.

Creation of the story structure from documentary footage often happens largely in the editing process because shooting live events reveals drama rather than dictating it the way a scripted narrative would. With the hybrid nature of ‘Big In Japan’, there was a story outline before the trip to Tokyo, but much of the casting and drama unfolded as a result of daily events and interactions.

“We actually found the bands that we want to incorporate in the film. We were using the reality of what was happening sort of as creative fodder for the story, and to bring us to places we hadn't anticipated that were hopefully going to be more unique than what we'd have come up with just sitting in a room.”
'Big In Japan' film trailer, directed by John Jeffcoat

With PluralEyes handling synchronization of all his various footage, John has been able to keep his focus on the creative editing process. He is also dedicating time to completing the script by writing scenes around what’s already been shot. This script will guide the upcoming filming back in Japan and ensure he ends up with a complete, and marketable, story.

Keep an eye on the ‘Big In Japan’ Kickstarter page for upcoming fundraising campaigns and to see trailers. Based on John’s track record so far; this will be another film you won’t want to miss.

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


Mac-PC Folder Syncing in Lion (Solved)

We don't just think about audio-video sync here at Singular Software. We also like to keep files and folders in sync, across the various Macs and PCs we have. We've been using SyncBackSE from 2BrightSparks for quite a while do this. It's a Windows-only program, but that's fine—it just means that we drive all the syncing from the Windows side of things. SyncBackSE is very inexpensive, has all the features you'd want and just works very well.

Until we installed Lion on one of the Macs. For some reason, mysterious network errors starting showing up and the sync would fail. Apple has replaced the SMB code in Lion and perhaps that's the reason. I sent a message to 2BrightSparks tech support and got a prompt reply which said (I'm paraphrasing), "Actually, we don't support Windows-Mac syncing." Oops.

For an unsupported feature, it had worked remarkably well and we weren't keen to throw the product overboard and look for an alternative. I remembered that SyncBack also supported FTP as a protocol for the sync. Sounds good, went back to Lion to turn on FTP and ... it's not there. Turns out that Apple has removed it or obscured it or something in Lion, because it is not very secure. (It isn't.)

But SFTP, a more secure but still standard, version of FTP is supported in Lion. Just go into System Preferences and check the box for Remote Login. Then go back to SyncBackSE and check the box for SFTP and ... it's disabled. Turns out you need SyncBackPro. OK, got that, checked the box, entered the SSH credentials and it all works.



Chad Haufschild takes on ‘Blood Rites’ for Unfiltered Entertainment

Chad Haufschild began writing film scripts as a teenager in Nebraska. Then he had the epiphany about the LA studio system that many young screenwriters do - that the most direct route to seeing his stories realized would be to make them himself. So he picked up a camera and started learning how to make films.

It wasn’t long before Chad was in the process of his first volunteer-run, micro-budget feature film, ‘Declaration of Independents’ (2007), which he wrote, directed and co-produced. He now works as a commercial editor for a local television station in Nebraska, and on weekends makes feature-length horror films under the banner of Unfiltered Entertainment.

With the impending release of ‘Blood Rites’ his third feature as Producer/Editor/Cinematographer, Chad still uses the micro-budget, mini-crew, DIY approach to filmmaking, and is the kind of innovator who often pushes the boundaries of his gear and his team.

Wake the Witch’, the 2010 inaugural feature for Unfiltered Ent, was shot with local actors, crew and locations, over several weekends between rent-paying day jobs. Because of their modest resources, all audio was recorded in-camera on the JVC GY-HD250 camcorder, on two channels, using a combination of boom and lavaliere microphones. This meant the camera operator was responsible for monitoring audio quality since all controls are on the camera body. The resulting audio was useable, but not stellar.

Film trailer for 'Wake the Witch'

When it came time to begin production on ‘Blood Rites’ the producers wanted to improve audio quality. Chad’s modus operandi is to always progress beyond his previous production. He says, “If you really want to take a step up in production, picture is great, but it's true that 80% of your visual experience at a movie is the sound; and if you can get into dual system audio, bump up your sound quality for as little money as it takes to purchase the Singular Software product, do it!”

The ‘Blood Rites’ crew list contains no more than nine names, which is phenomenally efficient for a feature film production. Chad repeated his role as Director of Photography, and brought on a dedicated audio recordist. The upshot of having audio separated from picture is that the camera work also improved since Chad’s focus wasn’t being split.

The production used an Edirol R-4 four track digital recorder, forgoing jam sync timecode capabilities to accommodate their budget. This allowed them to record four tracks of audio at a higher quality than the 16-bit of a normal camera.

“It just made sense, why not record dual system this time? We have a piece of software [DualEyes] that will allow us to save time in post, just do that sync automatically without having to line it up manually, which is a long, ugly, dirty process that nobody wants to do.”

The post-production team on ‘Blood Rites’ is as modest as the production team was. Chad serves as lead Editor and has a few helpers for visual effects and sound design, but the crew doesn’t often swell beyond four bodies. His primary tool is Adobe Premiere Pro from the Adobe Creative Suite 5.

Chad began the edit using a scratch track that had been recorded directly to camera, while the first wave of audio sweetening was happening on the dual system audio. Because he had finished the edit before syncing the audio, he got in touch with Bruce Sharpe directly through the Singular Software forums, and ended up taking the advice to use DualEyes.

“It really worked great. I was able to replace the audio and basically create a whole new video clip. Rename my clips, open my Premiere project and, boom, it was all there just ready to go. And Bruce was quite instrumental during the process, the customer service was outstanding.”

Chad admits part of the fun of guerrilla filmmaking is using software and technology in ways they might not have been designed for. For character POV footage on ‘Blood Rites’ he employed a GoPro helmet camera, designed for extreme sports. The GoPro’s tiny microphone picks up ambient sound of a very low quality, and so Chad was extremely impressed when DualEyes was still sensitive enough to sync up the track with his timeline.

‘Blood Rites’ is scheduled for release in the fall of 2011, with a distribution model that will build on the success of ‘Wake the Witch’. In that case, the visibility of their Video On Demand streaming attracted a distributor who helped to secure a traditional DVD distribution deal.

Film trailer for ' Blood Rites' (warning: contains graphic images)

Unfiltered Entertainment also employs the power of social media to engage fans by blogging and sharing video clips throughout their production process. This spirit of community and collaboration seems to permeate all levels of company’s activities.

“Collaboration is really necessary to be able to pull off what we can pull off for the amount of money we have available. People think we've had much larger budgets than we've had, and the only way you do that is with the right people.

... Some people golf, we make movies. And I don't mean that what we're doing is a hobby, what I mean is we really love what we do. There are people who are incredibly passionate about other things. We're really passionate about moving pictures.”

Watch for news about 'Blood Rites' on the Unfiltered Entertainment website.

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


Word startup problem in Lion (solved)

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and tried to start up Word on my MacBook Pro running Lion. It hung for a loooong time and then put up a message that it couldn't access a computer on my home network. And then continued to hang.

I couldn't figure out why it was trying to do this until I realized it was because of a new feature in Lion called Resume. By default, if you quit an app, when you start it later it tries to restore the state to exactly where it was when you quit. I'd had a document on the network open when I quit Word the last time I used it, and it was trying to open that document on startup, to resume where it left off. But Word couldn't access the network and got stuck.

It is possible to turn off Resume globally, but it's probably a good feature once you get used to it, and I've learned long ago not to swim against the tide of new operating system features.

In my case, I solved the problem by starting Word in safe mode by holding the Shift key. Maybe in the future I'll be more deliberate about closing docs rather than just quitting an app. But the real solution is for Microsoft and all Mac developers to be aware of the Resume feature and be prepared to recover gracefully if something goes wrong.


Robert Knowles’ career from Kodachrome to HD

As a boy in Jamaica, Robert Knowles first fell in love with making pictures with a simple Brownie Hawkeye box camera. As the 1950s rolled into the '60s he graduated to the more sophisticated 35 mm single lens reflex camera of the time and carefully budgeted his pocket money for one roll of Kodachrome film every two or three weeks.

He would wait two weeks while the film was shipped to England for processing and then sort through the box of colour slides to find the four or five pictures that had turned out well. He attentively learned the value of composition, lighting, exposure, perspective, and interacting with his subjects because all the mistakes he made cost him precious time and money.

A degree in photography, apprenticing in a group studio in London, several years as a cruise ship photographer, and then corporate event photography in New York led Robert to the steps of digital film technology, which forced him to think in moving images.

He recalls, I thought, oh I’ll just do video. It was more difficult than I thought. My first movies were like Charlie Chaplin movies because I was thinking in terms of stills, five-second pieces as opposed to continuity. So I’m basically self-taught by attending seminars, watching people work on the web, seeing the flow of everything.

Robert is now a full-time event videographer heading Knowles Media, based in Pennsylvania and working predominantly in New York. He delights in a career that merges his interest in people with his love of capturing images.

Nathalie & Christian wedding highlights video from Knowles Media
Robert’s primary work is wedding videography and in tandem with the affordability of digital video, his photography training serves him well when there is only one chance to capture the most important moments in people’s lives. “Once you’re in play mode that’s it. There’s no rewind. It’s really anticipation and knowing what you can get away with. It’s sensing the crowd, sensing the essence of the day so you know how to react.”

Most often Robert works with one or two other camera operators to cover a live wedding event. They use Canon’s EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, and Sony’s HXR-NX5 camcorder shooting images in 1080p, stored directly to SDHC memory cards. Audio is fed into two channels from the onboard camera microphone in addition to a wireless remote microphone placed by the room speakers.

There is rarely opportunity to visit the location ahead of time and prepare for how things will go. Robert remarks, “It's really a seat-of-the-pants day. You know from experiencing a lot of weddings roughly when things will happen, and to be in position, but within those parameters there's so much creativity. The people are different, and everyone has a different story, which I think makes the whole day fantastic.

When it comes time to transform the footage into films, Robert operates as a one-man post-production department. He uses the PluralEyes plug-in to synchronize all his media, and Final Cut Pro to edit. He was already an evangelist about time saved with the plug-in, but a recent foreign language wedding proved the ultimate triumph.

“I was completely lost because the whole ceremony was in Greek. The bride is Italian, the groom is Greek, so she was a bit lost. Now we've got the reception. Four hours of tape - two hours from each camera totally synced up with the timeline in a foreign language, expertly, I mean to the frame! It just completely blew me away. I still can't get over it.

His unabashed testimony to videographer colleagues is, “People think I'm crazy because I get so excited about this stuff. I mean there are certain things in the industry which you just have to have, and for $150 PluralEyes should fly out the door.

Stephanie & Evan's Greek wedding

Robert usually delivers a short trailer within the week following the wedding, and then a much longer feature within four to six weeks of the event. He most enjoys the weddings where he can interview the couple and their families ahead of time for additional material that gets woven into the live event footage.

Creating meaningful mementos for people is what keeps the work fresh for Robert. He shares, “A couple years ago a bride's father passed away after the wedding, but she has his voice on the tape, which is just so powerful. Really what we're doing is keeping people's memories alive. It's perfection.

Event videography requires a balance of polarized skills. Capturing live events calls on extroversion and self-assurance in interacting with crowds of people. Editing the footage is an introspective process of knitting a story together to create something eloquent and compelling. The extensive video library on the Knowles Media website reveals a sensitive touch operating those Sony NX5 cameras.

“The technology, as wonderful as it is - and I've seen the transformation of it - is still only a tool to help us create the shot. It went from film to digital, but it's still a camera with a lens. It's still about the image you're pointing the camera at when you look through the viewfinder. In the end it comes down to being passionate about what you do, and loving what you do, and that will show through.

Robert’s wedding trailers and other event videos can be viewed at Knowles Media or on his Vimeo channel.

Cathedral of St John's Church, The Divine, NYC from Knowles Media

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


The perseverance of Media Manager Alex Hemingway

Alex Hemingway was determined to work for Woodshed Films after seeing their 2002 feature, Jack Johnson: The September Sessions. The California production company has a documentary film catalog focused on surf, travel, and music. Alex began courting them first by emailing, and then by showing up at their events and offering to take on miscellaneous production tasks.

Something about his persistence must have worked, because he is now the Media Manager for a Woodshed Films feature-length documentary called The Railroad Revival Tour.

The upcoming release covers a traveling music concert that took three roots/pop/folk bands across the American Southwest by railway in the spring of 2011. A dedicated team using film cameras, DSLRs and GoPro cameras captured footage.

With over 85 hours of digital footage and 15 hours of film footage showcasing six performances between California and New Orleans, Woodshed called Alex in to organize the media in preparation for editing: a specialty he’s developed.

Alex’s challenge was to design an efficient system for synchronizing the large volume of data from varying sources. He began by organizing the footage into sequences. He divided the clips into acts from each show and then took all the camera footage and strung it out into a sequence. Then he brought in the reference mix audio from the venue in addition to any production audio.

For each show there were between five and nine simultaneous cameras rolling, each with their own stops and starts, and sometimes with conflicting timecode. This meant Alex had a sequence with up to nine video tracks and 15 audio tracks that would sometimes be extended to as many as 18 audio tracks.

Alex turned to PluralEyes to sync using the camera audio. For efficiency he created a pipeline in which PluralEyes would be syncing one act while he prepared the next act. He recounts, “I hit a rhythm where I’d be leap-frogging along with PluralEyes: The software would analyze and sync in the background while I was prepping the next sequence to PluralEyes and spot-checking the previously PluralEyesed sequence.”

“I like the recent upgrade because before you couldn’t have multiple projects open; but now you can have it working in the background, which is awesome.” Organizing all the media for this project took 20 days to complete. Without PluralEyes, Alex estimates it would have taken a team of people up to two months.

Alex graduated from the film program at University of Colorado, Boulder and moved back home to California in 2005. In considering where to base his career he recognized that Los Angeles held the most opportunities and an environment that suited him. “L.A. has a million little things going on and there are many ways to make or break it. But it starts with having the right attitude, making the right friends, and just crushing it when you get in there.”

He started out running errands and getting coffee, and soon discovered that he was happiest with the consistency found in post-production. His formula for success combines a knack for editing and media management, a strong work ethic, and the ability to handle anything that comes up. “Every job you learn something new. If you get complacent doing the same thing then how are you going to grow? I’ve seen this situation and that situation therefore I can handle a lot of the monsters that pop up, as they inevitably do.”

Alex’s goal to keep stretching himself has recently pushed him into the creative editor’s seat. “Once you step into the editor position it’s kind of that new and scary feeling again. It’s a challenge and you can either think you can’t do it and be afraid of it, or you can just go after it and try your hardest.

There’s not an exact recipe for how to edit something. You just have to get in there and do it, start putting things together. As an assistant you’re responsible for making sure everything is organized for the editor. You can get a project clean and organized, but at a certain point you’re hands off, just waiting for the editor to tell you to do something. Now stepping into the editor role is quite fun.”

Trailer for ‘Come Hell or High Water’ by Woodshed Films
Beyond media management Alex has edited a 30-minute documentary, director’s reels for the Woodshed Films team, and he cuts the prize package and graphics reels for the Let’s Make a Deal game show. He has also completed short films about rock-climbing and surfing, which nicely merges his two passions – outdoor sports and filmmaking.

Woodshed Films aims to release The Railroad Revival Tour in the fall of 2011. Keep an eye on their website for that upcoming doc, and for more of Alex’s work.

‘Aratitiyope: Into the Venezuelan Amazon’ by Asa Firestone, edited by Alex Hemingway

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.