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