Thursday, December 16, 2010

i365 Cloud Vs. On-Premise Episode 2

Here is another video we shot for one of our client's at LaunchSquad. You may remember Episode one of Cloud vs. On-Premise.

Brett Marty and I had so much fun making this video. Something about having a giant Cloud costume in the streets of San Francisco makes the vibe of the shoots very low key and fun. We shot a bunch of other fun stuff that didn't make it into the video, but we're hoping to use it in the future.

Editing this film was a difficult, as there were a lot of considerations to make about what each scene said about the company's messaging. We wanted it all to work with the idea that a cloud storage solution mixed with an on-premise solution is the best option. A hybrid.

I'm happy with how it came out. I'm hoping we get a chance to up the ante even more in the next one. I see a lot of potential in putting our characters in some very dramatic situations and locations.

Here it is in action:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Charlie + Morgan's Wedding

Well, I've been meaning to blog this on my personal filmmaking blog for a while. It's been up on Sandbox Love for a few weeks. But I figured not all of my followers watch my wedding company. So here it is for anybody who hasn't seen it.

Here is the Sandbox Love post for Morgan and Charlie's Wedding. As people at my PR firm like to say, "to add some color to this," Morgan and Charlie's wedding was really a perfect wedding. I cannot tell you how many things about their wedding were right on. I'll try.

First, I LOVED the colors that they picked. That salmony-type pinkish orangish color of the bridesmaid's dresses and the groomsmen's ties was classic and stylish. When I look up at the notes I have pinned on my wall about their wedding, that's exactly what they said they wanted. Well, they got it with those colors.

Second, their families were an pleasure to work with. We showed up very early on the day of the wedding, and I helped Morgan's father set up the rows of benches for the ceremony. Everybody just welcomed us with such warmth, and I think it had something to do with us making the Save The Date video and Love Story for them. Our team had already been incorporated into their wedding, so it was no problem to chill with their families as well.

And third, because Morgan and Charlie are such a young couple, the party was rocking. Hard. Like, rocking REALLY hard. The outtakes that might be included on their DVD are hilarious. It was for sure a fun party.

Also, props to Nick for shooting the wedding with me. As always, killer footage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Award: The Yesterage

Well here is an unexpected bit of awesomeness. My film for the San Francisco 48 Hour Film Project, The Yesterage, was recently recognized as a Finalist in the 2010 Image Gazer Film Festival. Saweeet!

Also, I don't think I ever announced the awards that we won from the actual contest. I wish we had some photos from the awards screening. We pulled home 4 awards...

Best Directing
"The Yesterage" by 4QR98 Pass

Best Editing
"The Yesterage" by 4QR98 Pass

Best Choreography
"The Yesterage" by 4QR98 Pass

Best Film Runner-Up
"The Yesterage" by 4QR98 Pass

For us this is awesome. I want to thank my team of 3 other people for their work on this film. Alex Hersler, Ben Tuller, and Nick Markham. I still think that the film we accomplished, in the time that was given to us and with such a small crew, is pretty spectacular. So major props to team 4QR98 Pass! BEWARE: You will most likely be seeing another Nellius movie soon.

Watch The Yesterage Here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On Top of New York: Towerstream

Brett Marty and I got to go over to New York for a couple of days to film this for Towerstream, one of LaunchSquad's clients. I was pretty siked when I was told we had unrestricted access to the coolest and tallest buildings in New York. Here's what we came up with!

There are a lot of really cool shots in here of skylines, clouds, and giant towers. There was one night where we were chilling on the top of the LaunchSquad New York office with a six pack, timelapsing footage of the Empire State Building. At the same time, we were doing a "Dolly Timelapse" where at every interval, we pushed the camera forward on our Glidetrack. It was funny, because we were doing this every 30 seconds, and we would sit down in between the intervals. So Marty and I had a lot of short, 25 second conversations: which is perfect for our rapidly declining attentions spans.

Me on top of "The Hub".

Marty on top of the Empire State Building.

Timelapsing sunrise from the top of the Empire State Building might be one of the coolest things I've ever done. We got a ton of beautiful footage for this film. We're excited to go on top of Chicago and Miami next!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

J Hilburn - Revolutionizing Men's Clothing

About a month and a half ago I rolled to Dallas to film for an up and coming men's clothing brand called J. Hilburn. What they do is pretty awesome, and I had a blast getting to know the guys behind the idea. Check out the video, I think it does a good job of explaining how their business model works, and why they are able to offer top of the line custom clothing for less than half the cost.

I shot this with Vitalie Ungureanu, who's quickly becoming my go to shooter. Both days we shot were scorchers, luckily the 7 million dollar mansion we were shooting in was pumped with AC that felt almost as valuable. We used two 5DmkII's, an assortment of lenses, and the 'ol glidetrack. We got tons of good footage, some of which you might see more of. Every interview we shot was just packed with soundbites. It was a very successful shoot.

Going into filming, I knew that I wanted to include some elements that made the video look a little more "magazine-esk." I had a couple of different aesthetic choices in mind, and we ended up going with a merging of the different looks. Nick Markham did the visual effects in the beginning of the video, as pretty much his first dive into After Effects. So excited to see how far we're going to go with motion graphics and visual effects. We've just begun.

Editing this puppy took a while; lots of late nights, chipotle, and scotch. But I think that we definitely got a winner here. I'm very proud of it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Danielle and Dan's Love Story

I shot this with Nick Markham a few weeks before Danielle and Dan's wedding. You may remember them from their Engagement Shoot from a while back. Here is the Love Story that we played at their wedding reception.

Dan + Danielle "Later, San Francisco" from Sandbox Love on Vimeo.

This was made for my freshly launched company, Sandbox Love. We went down to San Jose to film with Dan and Danielle and we had a pretty fun time. When Danielle first mentioned that one of her favorite memories of Dan was when they were eating ice cream on the hood of his car, I just HAD to have images of that.

I also did a lot of vintage cinematography for this piece, using my Digital Harinezumi. It's a toy camera that produces an image that looks similar to 8mm film. I'm siked with the vintage effect that I got with it.

I also think it is worth mentioning that my approach to editing this piece was to use the small moments of when Danielle and Dan speak to each other. I love how they speak with little pauses and in a volume that is really just for them. Super cute.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Made this for LaunchSquad's client, Quidsi (parent company of and for the press event and launch of

I loved shooting this video. The coolest thing about working with LaunchSquad is that our clients are all so innovative. It wasn't hard to understand why was #34 on the fortune 500. I mean, they legitimately save moms tonsssss of time, which allows them to spend more time enjoying their kids. is brilliant.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Morgan + Charlie's Love Story

We shot this with Morgan and Charlie two weeks before their wedding. All of their wedding guests attended the rehearsal dinner at The Lodge in Sonoma, and we had the chance to play this film for everybody there. After a very kind introduction by Charlie, I hit play.

When the lights came up, I looked around and saw so many teary eyes. The applause we received was pretty moving, and I didn't really know what to do. It was great though, it definitely set the mood for a touching and fun wedding the following day. Many thanks to Nick and Vitalie, who shot the Love Story with me for Sandbox Love. It's so inspiring to shoot with those guys, since we all see the world in different shots. When it's all added up, it always comes out well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Defining The Difference

As my company blog and my personal filmmaking blog start to head off in different directions, I want to define the difference a little bit. Sandbox Love is the company that I have been building for almost a year. On there you will find nothing but wedding related videos. However, on that site I will talk about the couples I get to work with, what I find inspiring about their story, and a little about how the films were made.

On my personal filmmaking blog you will find a lot of videos that aren't related to weddings. It will be videos for the PR firm I work for, films I make with my friends, and any solo cinematography projects I do. I will also post wedding films that I made with Sandbox Love, but in the text I will talk more about how I made those films. More of a behind the scenes if you will.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Allison + Craig Wedding Highlights

Allison and Craig's wedding was such a fun event. Check it!

This was the video I wanted to launch my wedding film company with. The joy, playfulness, and cinematic opportunity at the wedding was exactly the feel I wanted to base Sandbox Love on. For more about the approach to my company, see below or click here.

Going into the day, Nick, Rob and I planned out how we wanted to do most of the shooting. I rolled around with the glidetrack and wide lenses mostly while Rob "rocked" the 85mm close ups. Nick (quickly earning the nickname "Iron Nick") was using the glidecam to get all of the great sweeping shots. The combination of all of this is a magic combo. We should give it a name.

While we were taking a break and restoring some of our brain's creativity, Cassie and Dan at Los Gatos DJ Company played that first song you heard in the video. I turned to the rest of the team and said, "we're using this."

A huge shout out to Ashley Maxwell and her husband Jason who are incredible photographers, super warm people, and quickly becoming friends. We've shot with them before and can't wait to shoot alongside them again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Announcing: Sandbox Love!!!

It's finally here! I've been building towards launching a wedding film company for the past year, and I've finally got everything up and running. Take a look!

I should say a few things about the company. When I first started working in the wedding video industry, I was a little ashamed of what I was doing. Coming from a top film school, I felt like I wasn't owning up to my full potential; that I should be in Hollywood somewhere making real movies. Then something changed. I had a realization that wedding filmmaking, when done my way, is exactly what I want to be doing.

I get to tell meaningful stories again and again. My films aren't just entertainment... they are memories. I make films that matter. It's inspiring to know that each little cut I make in a film will be there, playing on their screens, in twenty years. Sons and daughters of my clients will grow up seeing these movies, catching a glimpse of what their parents were like on the happiest day of their lives. That I get to use my creativity and passion for this purpose, is truly amazing.

Sandbox Love is a company that strives to hit two feelings. The first is Love. But we're not going for Enya style here, we're talkin the fun, playful side. The cute quirks that make couples unique. Weddings are fun, and we want to capture that energy. The second feeling is Nostalgia. We want there to be a degree of reflection in our films. An air of sweetness, and sensitivity. I believe that feeling to be often overlooked in wedding videos, and I want to see what happens if I can capture that emotion.

Above all else, this is what I want to do. I have found my purpose. Sandbox Love.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 Launches!!!

It's crazy. Through LaunchSquad I have gotten to work with some amazing companies. (Also is #34 on the Fortune 500 list... and I'm shooting and editing the video for their company launch. I mean, this video is going to be at the front of a huge movement. The launch is being dubbed the biggest launch in retail history, and I get to be a major part of it. How lucky am I? Here is the vid: is brilliant. You can bet I will be using their services for my toothpaste, floss, toilet paper, detergent; I mean, anything they HAVE that I NEED, I'll get from them. Wouldn't you?

I shot this with Brett Marty, mostly in New York and New Jersey. The warehouse footage is all from Reno and the kids stuff is from a shoot we did for a while ago. The major challenge in shooting the film was finding cinematic interview backdrops in the new Quidsi (parent company) office. And maybe dealing with the humidity of New York. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. For a long time, I couldn't formulate a vision for how I wanted to edit the video. Then I found a pace and a vibe that I liked, and it worked out.

Very very very excited to see how this video does! It's been posted on some HUGE outlets, one of which is TechCrunch!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Yesterage - 48 Hour Film Project

My buddies and I have been doing this 48 Hour Film Racing thing for a little over a year now, and we love it. Going into it, I always dread the amount of work that is going to be required to meet my standards, because it often comes at the expense of sleep. But at the end of the 48 hours, when my body is numb and teeth are chattering from the absurd amount of caffeine in me, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. These weekends are by far the most productive weekends I'll ever have. In the words of Ben Tuller, who is on my team, "These are weekends I will actually remember." Troof.

Here was the assignment for this years SF race.
Genre: Fantasy (Awesome)
Character: GG Cook the Consultant
Prop: A Plate
Line: "You're not going to believe what happened."

So, ya...
I mean, our whole approach to these weekends is about having fun. We. Just. Want. To. Have. Fun. And we definitely do. But you're still probably asking "What in the world was that?" We'll leave that up for interpretation. Of course, one clue might be to watch the video that comes after this one, Nellius 5000 and Zupitron: Ultimate Battle Buddies.

The cool thing about this movie is that we made this entire thing in 48 Hours, WITH 4 PEOPLE! Our actors were our crew. That was it. We're extremely proud of our ability to make fun films look amazing, with the tiny crew that we have.

The only big difference between this online version and the version we turned in is the sound design. It's now properly mixed and I added a bunch of extra sound effects. We had all of the grading and editing done before hand, which is pretty incredible to think that we color graded in a 48 hour film. IMO, definitely worth it.

One question that was asked at the screening was, "How much of this did we prepare ahead of time?" The answer is, none of it. We fortunately had loads of props and locations from films we have made in the past. We shot this on a Canon EOS 7D with a very basic lens kit. Nothing too fancy... (we didn't get to utilize my macro lens). Hope you enjoyed it. I'm really hoping we're in the running for cinematography this year!

Swords, Power Tools, and Beer Definitely Mix

You guys have no idea how busy things have gotten. Well, maybe you do because you've seen I haven't added any new content to my blog. Well, this week will certainly have content! What have I been working on?

The major thing I have been working on is developing my new Wedding Film brand. It's a project I've been working on for almost a year, and it's finally getting to the launch point. Expect big news within a month, and a bunch of awesome new wedding films!

I've also been doing some commercial work for a candy store at Universal Studios. Very excited to show you what we came up with for them... footage looks legit.

I also made two videos for a huge author you may have heard of, Geneen Roth, who has been on Oprah twice now and has been at the top of the New York Times best seller list for a few months now. I also had some of my footage on Oprah, and had the first credit of the show go to me and Vitalie Ungureanu, who shot the videos with me.

I've also been working hard at my full time gig, LaunchSquad. Brett Marty and I have really pushed the video department far in the last few months. I have a bunch of content I am waiting to release regarding that stuff, just waiting for our clients to release the videos. Marty and I have been to Las Vegas, New York, Washington DC, and almost got to hit up Chicago. We're producing some very solid work, and are gunning to push into the advertising realm with some of our clients!

But for nowwwwwwww. Here are two more short videos I did for Shmaltz Brewing Company! Basically, just introducing the folks who are on the label's of Shmaltz' Coney Island Lager. To see the last video I made for them, and to see the equipment used, check it out here.

SOOO much stuff coming out this week! Stay tuned for the new 4QR98 Pass 48 Hour Film!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010 Fulfillment Center

This is pretty cool. I'm on a plane back from NYC where I was shooting for one of LaunchSquad's clients, They just announced their new sister company, It's pretty sweet, it's basically an online store for everyday essentials and it delivers it to 70% of the country the next day, for free.

Here is one of the three videos we made for their launch presentation.

We shot this with Brett Marty up in Reno a few weeks ago. I actually had a lot of fun on that shoot. I got to hop onto one of those robots as it made it's way around the entire factory. At one point I actually got boxed in by 4 other robots loaded with stacks of Diapers boxes.

This video has got a lot of praise so far from media. It was posted to TechCrunch which was a nice outlet for exposure. Check it out here.

Also, major props to Nick Markham for doing a great edit. Stay tuned for the other videos. Very different content but solid films.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cloud Vs. On Premise Storage

Can two brothers reconcile their differences and work together in a state of hybrid bliss?

This film was a blast to make. Brett Marty and I produced this for i365, a data storage and protection company. After throwing around a few ideas about our approach, we settled on a fake movie trailer that plays up their relationship in a very dramatic way. Pretty hilarious stuff when combined with the cumbersome costumes. Here is a pic of Brett and I working hard:

To get the big movie feel we shot on a Canon 5DmkII and my Canon 7D with a 50mm 1.4 and a Sigma 10-20mm. I was very impressed with the 5DmkII combined with 50mm. We utilized the 1m Glidetrack both horizontally and vertically, putting as much subtle movement on our shots as we could. The next step was the editing. Lots of quick multishot sequences, fades, and sound design. I've always loved shooting and editing trailers, so editing this felt very natural once we figured out the feel of the piece.

I also wanna give a shout out to Henry Dombey, who recorded our sound and boom op'd. Stay tuned for additions to this video series! And if you like this, tweet it to your friends! Thanks.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shooting in Las Vegas

A few weeks ago I got to fly out to Las Vegas for my job at LaunchSquad. One of our clients is a big deal in the surveillance world, 3VR. What their technology does is wild stuff. Rather than having hours of streaming surveillance video, 3VR categorizes the video data and makes it searchable. For instance, If I wanted to find a green car, all of the segments where a green car pass the camera would come up. It gets crazier. Two words: Facial Recognition.

So here is the video that we made for them. It's not about their technology, but testimonials and their experience at ISC West (International Security Conference).

I shot this with Brett Marty, my partner at LaunchSquad. We were shooting my 7D with a 85mm 1.2, 50mm 1.8, and 10-20mm 4-5.6 Sigma. The interview footage turned out great with all the pretty bokeh in the background. We also shot the Canon Vixia and used that as a second camera and our audio recording device. Que interesante! I really wanted to show off the capability of the DSLR's vs. Camcorders and I believe my point came across quite strongly. We've been authorized to get a full Canon 5DmkII kit. You know my motto: Production Value, Production Value, Production Value.

We went out one night and shot a bunch of Vegas B-Roll. We weren't sure what we were going to use it for, but we wanted to mess with the low light capabilities of the 7D and the 85mm 1.2. The vegas strip was the perfect place.

The second night we were there we did Vegas right. We made a lot of really good decisions and no streaks were broken. Well, maybe.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Neda + Sati's Wedding WEEK Highlights

You read that right folks. My team and I have been following a week-long wedding event for Neda Rahimian and Sati Hillyer. My, what a week it has been. Take a look, I don't think this could be more epic...

I shot this with Rob Bagot and Nick Markham, an old buddy of mine from my Chapman days. The week began with a Persian Wedding, thrown by the bride's family in Beverly Hills. We had a great time filming with the family and I was very impressed by the beauty of the Persian ceremony. Up there we got a chance to meet Augie Chang, who absolutely rocked a photo shoot on Rodeo Drive.

That night we got to experience the meeting of different cultures. The reception had many elements of a traditional western ceremony, but with the energy and enthusiasm of the Persian and Indian families.

We then headed down to San Diego where it was the Groom's turn to host an event. Most of the guests were booked at the Westin in downtown San Diego, where my team also had the pleasure of staying. Because everybody was staying in the same hotel, both families had a chance to hang out all the time and really open up to each other. I felt like I was the luckiest wedding filmmaker in the world... seeing this occur over the week. What a story to tell!

On the day of the elephant parade, we pretty much choreographed exactly where our cameras would be and when we would reposition. I happened to be grabbing a shot while hoisting my monopod to Sati's level when a photographer snapped this picture of me. It just so happened that the picture made it onto the front page of the San Diego Tribune.

I chose the song because it had a very energized, but also sentimental, mood to it. I felt like, at the end of this week long experience for these families, something of a bittersweet mood would be appropriate.

There is so much to tell you guys about this wedding. I'm stoked to be a part of it. Major props to Jason Dean, the event planner, who really took care of use film guys and made sure we were able to get our shots. Here is an awesome article about the wedding.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Monday, March 29, 2010

Neda + Sati's Love Story

A few months ago, Robby Bagot and I were commissioned to shoot the ultimate wedding. I mean...the ULTIMATE wedding. Neda and Sati are having a week long event in Southern California where they are flying in a bunch of family from all over the world. The first piece of Neda and Sati's wedding saga was to make a Love Story Film to show at their first wedding reception (they're having two weddings). Here is that love story, we're very proud of it.

Neda and Sati are an amazing couple. I'm actually blogging this from a hotel room in San Diego where I am staying to shoot the rest of their wedding week. They really are as beautiful, happy, and friendly as this film makes them out to be. Even more so. As we continue to work on their wedding film, I will continue to share my experience.

For the Love Story there were three shooters. Myself, Robby Bagot, and Vitalie Ungureanu. We met Neda and Sati in Marin at around 7AM and shot until about 1pm. The weather was absolutely spectacular... perfect for the look that Robby and I were going for. He and I had met a few times prior to the shoot to figure out how we were going to tell their story, and we also did a location scout for all of our locations.

For the camera fanatics who follow my blog, we used a huge assortment of equipment:
2 EOS 5DmkII's (Pre-Firmware)
1 EOS 7D
Canon: 50mm f/1.4 (and 1.8), 85mm f/1.2, 20mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8
Sigma: 10-20mm f/4-5.6, 105mm f/2.8 macro
Glidetrack, Zacuto Z-Finder, Zacuto Quickdraw, Steadycam Merlin, 501 heads, and my favorite piece of equipment...the Manfratto 561BHDV Monopod.

I'm so excited to be a part of such a wonderful wedding. Above are some shots of our video playing on the screen for an audience of over 400 at the Beverly Hills Wilshire.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Shmaltz Night Out

A few nights ago I rolled around San Francisco and shot a video for Shmaltz Brewing Company. Read more about it here. As promised: let the wild rumpus start!

I first got to see Heather Holliday and Donny Vomit in action when we started off the night at Cafe Royale. It was a small crowd, but a very receptive one. We then went over to Church Key, a very small but cozy bar in North Beach. It was a harder space to work in, because of the tight quarters but the people there were very warm and were happy to be a part of the night.

Our third stop was at The Monk's Kettle. This place absolutely loved the performance. What made it even better was that because it was so packed, there was no place for Heather and Donny to perform. So they stood up on a stool behind the bar, drawing everybody's eyes. They even had people standing on the street watching the show through a window.

The last location was a very cool bar called Bender's Bar. This place is awesome. They have pool tables, music, and plenty of seating. The interior was very stylish and edgy, perfect for the video.

Because all of the shooting was done at night in dimly lit bars, it was very hard to get a proper exposure without getting grain. I was excited to see how the 5DmkII and 7D performed in low light, but some of these bars, were sooooooo dim.

Equipment Used:
Canon EOS 5DmkII
Canon EOS 7D
Canon 50mm f/1.8, 20mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.2
Glidetrack Shooter
Zacuto Z-Finder
Zacuto Rapid Fire

Lessons Learned
1. Monopod FTW - Both Rob Bagot and I were shooting hand held the entire time. It worked for this style of video, but for anything with the "crazy factor" dialed back, better stabilization should be used. Monopods make perfect sense.

2. Need Faster Lenses - For any run and gun night shooting, fast lenses are essential. The f/2.8 wasn't cutting it, especially on the 7d. I had to add a little diffusion to cover up the grain. At some points I cranked that ISO up to 6400. Ouch.

3. Shmaltz Shmaltz Shmaltz - The whole Shmaltz crew is great. A bunch of chill folks who know how to have a good time. Sword Swallower is a fantastic beer. Can't wait to try Human Blockhead.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Prelude to the Madness

Last night was wild! I was shooting a promotional video for Shmaltz Brewing Company, the makers of the famous Jewish style beer lineup, He'Brew. They also have a line of beers called the Coney Island Craft Lagers AKA "The Freak Beers." Each beer is named after a performer in the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. So to promote the beer, Schmaltz wanted to go around to different bars in SF with two of the performers and put on a short show for the crowds. Heather Holliday rocked the sword swallowing and Donny Vomit busted out the Human Blockhead. Here are a few snaps I took from the night.

Many thanks to Rob Bagot for coming out and shooting with me on short notice. I'm excited to cut together a teaser for the video. Like I said, last night was wild!

-Jesse Tarnoff

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Soaked and Stoked...

Does anyone even use the word "stoked" anymore? Not that I ever really used it. But it rhymed and fit the feeling. Drenched and excited.

I'm starting to adjust my sleep cycle for my new job. Today is Day 1. And it just happened to coincide with a 7AM Location Scout / B-Roll shoot for a Love Story I am shooting this upcoming weekend. I got together with Robby Bagot, cameraman and advertising extraordinaire, and we headed out to the Marin Headlands to check the lay of the land.

It was pouring rain. Whatever, we didn't mind. We walked all over the place checking out viewpoints, trees, beaches, and old WWII bunkers (my favorite). As we scouted different locations and came up with possible shots, we also broke down the Love Story into three acts. This should be a really fun shoot and a fantastic piece. We have some very cool stuff planned.

Now, back to my sleep cycle. I have a shoot from 7PM to 11:30 tonight. Two shoots on the same day at opposite sides of the clock. Yowzah.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Reward is in the Smiles.

Well, today was officially my final day working for Metmedia. Jonathan and I went out for lunch and chilled on some beer as the rain poured outside. We reflected on the last two and a half years, and even talked about the days when I worked there for a summer job, long before that. I started out working at the company printing labels and scanning photos, and have come a long way since then.

I was trying to tally up all of the weddings I have edited while working there. My initial count when looking back at our spreadsheet was over 45, but I know I am missing a bunch from my early summer job years. I'm going to estimate that I edited over 60 weddings while working there. Wedding films never get old. The story of love is a story I don't mind telling again and again. Each couple brings so many different ideas and values to their love, and I find it way inspiring.

A few weeks ago I was approached by LaunchSquad, a PR Firm in San Francisco. After a few meetings and some dialogue, they offered me a position as a video producer, specifically creating video for the web. So I'll be making a switch from doing personal stories to corporate work, but I don't think it's a big switch. LaunchSquad hits PR from a different angle... the storytelling angle. I'm excited to see how I can adapt my experience with personal storytelling to their company.

Lessons Learned from Metmedia
1. The Reward is in the Smile. Sure, working at Metmedia I didn't earn a big paycheck. But I actually looked forward to sitting down at my editing station and putting together work that I was proud of. I regard this as so much more important than my income. The real reward comes in the tears of joy I see when we get to play the films for couples. If I'm smiling and they're smiling, I don't need much else in life.

2. Build your Friend List, Not your Client List. In wedding filmmaking, there is nothing more important than becoming friends with your clients. Jonathan showed me this when he developed great relationships with brides. Not only will it relax them when they are in front of the camera, but the added trust will gain you more creative leeway. And most importantly, it's more fun when we're all buddies, working together to make their wedding day and wedding film great.

3. Energetic Editing. A 4 pack of Redbull might not be enough when editing a Wedding Day Edit or SDE. However, all night editing on location is very very fun.

I just want to thank Jonathan for the years of good times working for Metmedia. I truly appreciate your generosity in allowing me to use your equipment and in helping me grow as a filmmaker and person. Thank you.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Quality of Light

A day off? Ha! No thanks... I think I'll spend my President's Day trekking through the beautiful valley's of Nicasio while putting my cine skills to the test. I mean, how could I resist? It was perhaps the most beautiful day of 2010 thus far.

I rolled out of Berkeley at around noon with my trusty 7D kit, my Glidetrack, and a backpack full of Powerbars and Gatorade. I anticipated this being a small day trip. Little did I know, I was in for a long night. But before I elaborate, please check out the video. The mood of the video is very pretty. The rest of my story is not. If your computer can, hit the full screen button on the video (little arrows).

I'm very happy with how the video turned out. I think there are some beautiful shots in there and some beautiful colors. I was a little disappointed with some of the Glidetrack shots because my track was sticking pretty badly. I guess that's what happens when you forget about the open can of Monster energy drink in your backpack pocket and decide to bend over to pick up the Glidetrack thus spilling the neon green fluid all over the rails. Run on sentence? Probably.

So, while shooting in Lucas Valley, I was attempting to shoot some shots for a logo I am working on for my film team. It involved a very ornate sword and a red silk sash. Somehow when I packed up all of my gear I left the beautiful sword on the ground, completely forgetting about it. I realized it was missing when I got to my next location. I figured it was in a remote enough location that I could go back when I finished shooting and recover the blade. Upon returning some hours later, the beautiful sword was gone. Alas, Arandir...thou blade now belongeth to another. Here is the last known image of thy sword, shot with my Digital Harinezumi.

It was dark when I went to go look for the sword, so I had to make a decision. Did I want to spend the next 2.5 hours hanging out in the pitch black wilderness so that I could do a star time-lapse? Of course I did. Well, after about 5 minutes I got pretty bored. Don't ask me where the time went. Exposing each frame for 30 seconds means a lot of sitting.

Weird things started to happen. I saw shadows of hawks/vultures flying 10 feet above me, deciding whether or not to attack such a bored fellow. A teenage couple came venturing out into the darkness to do what teenagers do. I started to hear wolves in the mountains, and other terrifying screaming noises (it wasn't the couple, don't worry.) My fear of lurking mountain lions pushed me back to my car where I grabbed a prop rifle to help me defend my time-lapsing camera. Oh and the only light source I had was my cell phone? And we're not talking about an iPhone here, as I'm sure there's an app for that.

Lessons Learned:
1. Polarizer + Stars = FAIL. I accidentally left my polarizing filter on my lens while shooting the night sky. This directly led to me needing to crank up the ISO more than I needed to, which is why those night shots are either grainy or underexposed.

2. Prepare for the unexpected. Bring a light source, good reading material, and a weapon when taking time lapse footage. Swords don't count.

3. Raptors do not exist in the Nicasio hills. Hyena's might...

-Jesse Tarnoff

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Ahead

It's been a while since I updated this puppy. Sometimes in this industry you need to hunker down and do some planning. I wish I could be out there shooting all the time, but at some point there is the whole other side: lining up freelance work, writing scripts, drafting proposals, talking with clients, and of course... drooling over new equipment. Aside from freelance projects, which I wont get into right now, I have a couple other side projects.

The first is a nighttime low light test that I am shooting entirely at night with my 7D. It's going to have a few time lapses in it as well as some sweet city bokeh. I really wanna find the optimum settings for shooting in low light environments with my lens kit.

The second is a cinematography video of one of my favorite places on earth, Nicasio. A few years ago, I wrote a treatment and an outline for a feature set in the small town. I worked with a screenwriter/director on pre-production for a few months (I was going to be the DP/Executive Producer) before we decided to put the project on hold to do other things. So I've been building some footage of the small town and it's surroundings, playing with color, and doing a few timelapse shots.

And here is the really inspiring one. Ten. I recently found out about a film festival that is just for trailers of movies that you want to make but don't exist yet. Are you kidding me?! That's possibly my favorite thing to do ever! My high school feature film was made solely because of how much support I got for making a trailer of what it would look like.

I also had 3 trailers for my pre-AOTR film, The Third Stage and a trailer I made while at Chapman for AOTR 2. Ten is probably the best opportunity for me to hit the pinnacle of my love for filmmaking.

I plan to enter between 3 and 5 trailers to Ten. All of which I can assure you will be epic, cinematic, and incredibly fun to make.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tick. Tock. Timelapse.

I woke up early Saturday well rested, with no plans for the day. That quickly changed as I hoisted myself onto my elbows and peered through the window. Sun! And... Clouds! In that split second I figured out exactly how I would spend my day.

I hopped into some dirty jeans, checked my car for parking tickets, and set up my 7D for some time lapsing! Now... sitting alone all day could be fun if you're a monk and are 95% of the way to enlightenment, but I'm far from that. To pass the time I recruited some of my brilliant Berkeley housemates to hang out and pass the time.

Here is what I came up with. Oh, and make sure you stay tuned for the last shot. Even Aragorn says it's epic.

All of the timelapse footage was shot on my 7D at various intervals, depending on how fast the clouds were moving. All of the vintage film footage was shot on my Digital Harinezumi, essentially a toy video camera that produces 8mm looking images. I wanted to mix the clean images of the ramped up clouds with the gritty vintage to juxtapose the feel of each camera.

Lesson's Learned
1. IS ≠ :) - Image Stabilization should be disabled if shooting with an IS lens. I figured it would help with minor wind movement. Upon reviewing the footage, since each frame has IS compensation, each one is a little different than the next. This is why there is that weird pan on the campanile. Luckily I only shot with that lens for one shot.
2. Roll the D40 - I also have a Nikon D40 kit that seems to be generating dust. I need to figure out a solid intervalometer for that thing, and then I'll be able to shoot two angles at once.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Super Cute Couple

I really couldn't resit posting this wedding highlights video. It's a piece I edited for Metmedia last week and it is just way cute. Oh and as a bonus, you get to hear the best pick up line ever used.

Ok say it with me... 1, 2, 3, "Awwwwww!" I know. Adorable. Meredith and John were married at Piedmont Community Church and their reception was at the Claremont Country Club. I picked a playful song because I wanted their sense of humor and easy going attitude to come through. I really enjoyed editing their full wedding and had some fun with time-shifting. 71HUGO!

-Jesse Tarnoff

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cine/Grading Test

I guess I really am addicted to filmmaking. When I don't have the opportunity to film for a week or two, I feel this slowly building angst that eventually results in me finding an excuse to go out and take some shots. I guess it's because when I'm shooting, it's like a meditation. A chance to be outside of my head and channel all of my focus into one thing. It's very freeing.

Enough of this new age hippie talk! Time for some dark and brooding cinematography inspired by Apocalypse Now. One of my favorite scenes of Apocalypse Now is the scene in the jungle where the tiger jumps out. I love it because of it's color pallet. Notice how extremely GREEN the greens are, and how everything else is a shade of blue. It's got a very cool neonish look that I wanted to replicate.

In doing some preparation for the Staff Blaster Orgins film, I wanted to achieve this look for Jack Shrapnel's opening sequence. Here is my test footage in which I combine in camera color processing with digital color grading.

Now the cinematography style is very different, but looking at the color, I think I did a pretty good job of isolating those greens and making them pop. I'm curious to know about how Vittorio Storaro accomplished this look in Apocalypse Now. I can't imagine he JUST used tungsten film outdoors. As far as this being a test video, here is what I learned.

Lessons Learned
1. Don't Shoot the Sky - The sky is impossible to get colored right. If shooting a jungle scene, avoid shooting anything upwards.
2. Expose properly instead of trying to crush the blacks in camera. Also, do not use highlight bias setting when shooting in a darkened environment such as a forest.
3. Bring more than one Powerbar when carrying a tripod, glidetrack, and camera kit through a forest. All that lifting = hungry tummies.

-Jesse Tarnoff

Monday, January 11, 2010

2009 Ava Awards

The results are back from the Ava Awards and apparently they like fusion! Metmedia submitted two projects that I edited to the judges. The first project was Laura and Scott's wedding which was a full length wedding film that was edited completely in fusion style. This film won the Ava Platinum Award, the highest honor in the Weddings and Events Category. I've always been very proud of my work on that film. The clips online show some of the quality, but the film in it's entirety is a very well produced piece. Here are some of the clips from that...

Earlier this year we also took home a Videographer Awards 2009 "Award of Distinction" for my fusion editing in Laura and Scott. I don't think I ever blogged about it.

We also received an Ava Gold award for the Yosemite Love Story I edited for Christy and Jared. While it's not a platinum, I am still proud of the achievement and speaks to the power of fusion style editing.

2010 should be a good year for some more awards. With the new DSLR setup, I think there are some very good projects on the horizon. It's about time I gunned for Weva Gold.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Morgan + Charlie Save the Date

Morgan + Charlie from Jesse Tarnoff on Vimeo.

Morgan and Charlie's story is really quite amazing. The two of them first met in elementary school, and have grown up together. I'm talking elementary school, middle school, high school, and yes... college. When I talked to them about their relationship, they emphasized the idea that no matter what's going on, there is always something that is pulling them back together.

When we were shooting their Save the Date, we talked about TV shows that we both liked. I was happy to hear that they both really liked Friday Night Lights, a show with a style I love. When I started editing, my goal was to give it the same kind of vibe as the tv show.

We were also EXTREMELY lucky with the weather. The forecast was rain ALL week. On the drive up, I was absolutely astonished at how beautiful the day was. It was a sunny day with extremely defined patches of clouds; very crisp. It really could not have been better.

By request: here is the gear I used. Canon EOS 7d with a canon 50mm f/1.8, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 with a polarizer. I'm pretty sure those are the only lenses I used. I also used my Glidetrack SD 1m and a 501 Fluid Head. For audio I used a Rode Videomic. In my opinion, the production value comes from the Glidetrack and the polarizer on my wide lens. Color grading was done in Magic Bullet, making good use of gradient exposures.

-Jesse Tarnoff