Often there are projects that arise that we know at James Drake Films are hugely important and are for a worthy cause.
One such project is for a non-profit organization called Unlock Freedom. They are actively working with schools to help students learn about the realities and dangers of human trafficking. Sadly, human trafficking is becoming a tremendous issue in our world.
Unlock Freedom approached us about making a series that would help students relate and recognize the sensitive issues. After several months of script writing and development, we partnered together to create four fictional stories, based on true events, to portray the plight of the many types of victims human trafficking claims.
This is a short intro video we created for the series
The kindness, time, and efforts we received from community members, students, and businesses was truly unbelievable. After all was said and done, we had somewhere in the range of 20 actors, 10 locations, and many more behind the scenes. It was an honor to work with Unlock Freedom and support them in their battle against human trafficking.
The story videos are not online for now, but below are a collection of frame grabs from the various stories.
As per their website, their mission is:
-educate youth about the reality of trafficking. To empower them to prevent trafficking and speak out against injustice
-mobilize the community to intervention
-create a movement toward freedom for all people
We support that mission and may Unlock Freedom continue in bigger and more effective ways!
This is a piece we worked with the company Art Not War to look into the life of a farmer, Alfonso, a man intimately acquainted with using water for his profession as an alfalfa hay producer. It centers around the Clean Water Rule. As water rights continue to increase in importance for the next generations, it is important that we have experienced and valuable voices like Alfonso’s in the discussion to protect water rights in the future.
Alfonso pointedly remarks, “Snow from the mountains feed the streams, streams feed the rivers, rivers feed us. You can’t grow food without water. You can’t live without water. Without water nothing survives.”
The Clean Water Rule would protect water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. Needless to say, a hugely important issue.
Shot on Red Epic
Production: Art Not War
DP: James Drake
Grip: Ian Chisolm
There are a myriad of filmmaking apps for the iPad that have come out over the years, I look at my top 5 favorites that have proven their usefulness on various shoots and in preproduction.
1 – Shotlister
shotlister.com Shotlister is an app we’ve used countless times to schedule shoots both complex and simple. The flexibility of organizing shortlists by camera setup, name, scene, and others is a tremendous time saver. But the real power of shotlister is the ability to create shotlists… then schedule them. After you’ve created a shotlist, you can go into the “schedule” portion of the app and organize all of your shots by shoot day. This function has really helped our team on countless shoots. While we’ve always been able to schedule shot lists and put them to the day, the “crew sync” feature, which allows you to share and collaborate on shotlists, has helped the process along. You are able to add storyboards or pictures for each shot, which can really help on quick-turn projects, or multi-unit shoots. Shotlister also allows you to export the schedules and shotlists in a beautiful PDF form that many of our clients have liked the design of. Shotlister costs $13.99 per year for a pro account.
2 – Easy Release
Easy release says it all in the name. An easy way to get release forms from models and property. It has a quick way to set up a “shoot”, and add as many talent as you need to that shoot, as well as locations. It has a lot of features, including the ability to input compensation information (with $3.99 upgrade). It’s very easy, and I like the ability to hand off the iPad to someone on set, and have them go through the process with talent when they have a few minutes to sign the release. The program asks to take a picture of talent, for ID purposes, and then they sign digitally. It is then all stored on iCloud (if you choose) and saved. No more lost talent release forms! Easy Release costs $9.99, with an additional $3.99 price tag to get the full customization of releases (I think is a must because it makes signing the forms quicker, requiring less fields).
3 – Pocket Call Sheet
Pocket Call Sheet is a wonderful tool that allows you to create call sheets on the fly for upcoming productions. One valuable tool is the ability to quickly add contacts from your iPad/iphone contact list, so for myself, a lot of the people I put on the call sheet are already in my phone as contacts. Quick and easy. There is a lot of depth to this tool, and in some cases there are so many fields that it is a bit exhaustive for quick low budget shoots, but I like the abilities it offers and the ease of putting a nice call sheet together on the iPad. Pocket Call Sheet costs $6.99.
4 – Pro Prompter
Pro prompter is a very cool teleprompter app that allows you to use a portable teleprompter system like the ultra portable Pad Prompter. It is easy to use and fairly intuitive. The way we’ve used it is to connect two iPads together through the app, and then control the speed of the prompter on the mirror image of the iPad sitting in your lap. Pretty neat tool, and it’s a tool you already have with you. As far as consolidating gear goes, this is awesome. Pro Prompter costs $9.99 on the app store.
5 – CTRL + Console
Control Console is something I just recently discovered through some blogs. It is effectively a control surface for Premiere, FCP, and other applications. It has a useful interface that allows you to edit with ease. It connects with your computer wirelessly. I like it because I can sit back and enjoy editing from the couch if I’m on the road and instead of hovering over a laptop, I can be more comfortable. With practice CTRL + Console can become quite fast. It costs $29.99 for each interface (Premiere, FCP) and also has some more basic editors for $4.99.
Let me know what iPad apps you use for filmmaking that you use!
Lost Valley Ranch is one of the most beautiful times there. We worked closely with the LVR team to put together this story that looks into their horsemanship clinics they feature in the fall, and we see the reactions of guests enjoying themselves tremendously.
Lost Valley Ranch has been awarded the 4 Diamond AAA Award for 38 consecutive years and has year after year been a winner on Trip Advisor as a “Traveler’s Choice”. They have 112 perfect 5 star reviews, after all.
My wife and I collaborated on this project, and it was a very special piece for us to put together because Lost Valley truly is a special place.
We are hugely thankful to win a Bronze award from the Collegiate Ad Awards for our TV spot shot with Fort Lewis College in 2014. It was an honor to work on that project, we had a blast! Though we’re based out of Denver, we traveled to Durango on 3 different occasions to capture different aspects of the school.
When they mentioned they were looking at creating an exciting spot that told the story of the outdoor and adventure learning opportunities, I was very excited. We had a round table with a variety of departments at the school and came up with an action plan to create a spectacular, and engaging piece. We are proud of the way it all turned out and now we’ve accumulated an award for it!
A huge special thank you to my friend Dave Dugdale at learningdslrvideo.com for putting together this behind the scenes video while we were shooting a final day on our series for Unlock Freedom.
Unlock Freedom is an organization with a mission to stand against human trafficking. One of their big objectives is educating students in schools, and this video series we were creating is one teaching tool they’re using to do so.
I was set up with a DJI Ronin and Atlas Camera Support system, thanks to my friend Cory Reynolds at Contrast Media. With the Red Epic mounted on board, we had a pretty killer package.
Because this was a smaller budget production, we got creative and preproduction and determined a way to shoot all of the stabilized shots on a 24mm lens, stopped down to around 5.6-8 to keep the depth of field deep enough to keep a subject in focus without too much worry. We went without a wireless follow focus, which although almost invaluable to have when on anything other than a 24mm or wider, we were able to pull it off in focus.
I’ve used a Ronin or similar handheld gimbal system on quite a few productions to date, but I wouldn’t call myself a gimbal master. The shots came out smooth and are editing together well, for which I am thankful, but my lower back definitely can use some rest for a few days. With just the Ronin, it’s probably in the 20-30 pound ballpark. You add the Atlas support system, which clips two tent-pole like rods into the crossbar of the gimbal with a velcro clip, and I personally was able to shoot for much much longer, something like 10-15 minutes at a time versus 3-5 minutes going with just the Ronin alone. With 10-15 minutes we were able to accomplish all the shots we needed, so our small crew was able to pull it off.
Thanks to all the crew for pulling together an awesome last day of filming on a project we’ve been working on for almost a year now!
Every horse needs a stable. Extraordinary horses deserve extraordinary stables. Coming home from your ride every day is completed by pulling into a private space that you, your family and your prized collections call home. Turning off the key and shifting from one world to the next requires an effort only understood by few. Each Stable by André is manifested to be one of a kind: Hand crafted from materials surrounding your home that may never be duplicated by others. A truly hand tailored wall treatment within which your collection can find refuge after a hard day of riding. Your home is a sanctuary for all of the creatures that dwell therein.
We had the opportunity to put this tv spot together for Fort Lewis College for their NCAA homecoming game that played nationally on October 16 on Fox Sports. The college came to us and asked us to produce something that captured the general feel of the campus and showed the adventurous life that students can have at the school, located in the outdoor playground of Durango Colorado.
Here’s the spot:
Our team went down for 4 visits to complete this spot. During the first stay, we met with a team from the school and talked through creative strategies and the feasibility of using students and volunteers for many of the roles to be played in the commercial. For instance, there’s a river that runs through Durango and very early on it was suggested that we captured something around that iconic river. We ended up integrating that location twice, once with a kayak exploding through some rapids, and once with students taking samples for their biology class.
Sprinter grip truck in durango
photo credit: Hannah Drake
On the way to Durango, the drive is beautiful
The staged nighttime football game
The next three visits were production days, in which the schedule was flexible enough to encompass many campus activities including a soccer game, slack-lining, kayaking, skateboarding, riding mountain bikes at sunset over a ridge, a business class, a biology class, and art class.
Thanks to everyone involved!
and many more volunteers!
Carlton Landing is a magnificent place. This is a web piece to show off their stunning location, great family living, and many amenities.
From their website:
Imagine a place… where you can enjoy time together – free of distractions. Where kids can safely play and explore the natural world around them. Where the hustle and bustle of life is held at bay. Where a life of simplicity is not only possible, but encouraged.
The idea of Carlton Landing was birthed from a realization that our society needs a good escape option. Our world is moving faster than ever these days and time is our most precious resource. In the process of ‘trying to keep up’, it’s easy to lose track of the most important things in life – things like rest, recreation and special time with kids or grandkids. The small joys of enjoying a good book on a covered porch on a rainy morning, going for a walk in the late afternoon, growing your own food, or having long dinners with good friends are sometimes lost in the shuffle. When you stop to think about it, these are the things that mean the most and make for a memorable life.
Sometimes, we need a place to go away and find the life we dream of. A place to reconnect with our family. To reconnect with our friends. A place to reconnect with nature and with the infinite power of creation. A place to be restored and renewed. A place to build lasting memories and have the option of enjoying a life of simplicity. This place is Carlton Landing. Welcome!
Shot, produced, directed and edited on location in Oklahoma by the James Drake Films team.
This is a 30 second Brahma Brims tv commercial for an upcoming hard hat accessory:
An excerpt from their website:
The brim is comprised of three parts specifically designed to maintain its shape while providing a flexible outer brim that lowers the risk of the hard hat being knocked from the head of the worker when the brim comes into contact with another surface. This design also maintains a line that follows closely the original profile of the existing hard hat brim, allowing it to maintain the consistant deflection properties of the hard hat itself. We have also considered that if the brim should become snagged or caught between something, since it is not connected to the hard hat with the use of *external fasteners or devices the brim should simply peel away from the hard hat under most circumstances. So you can wear your brim with confidence.
We also made a 90 second web story featurette
Directed, shot, edited on location in Wyoming by the James Drake Films team.
Please note this page may take a moment to load because of the large number of images below.
This blog is a look at the Sony A7s low light capabilities. The low light capabilities have already been bragged on all over the web, but I wanted to see a side by side comparison with the Red Epic and Panasonic GH4.
As an Epic owner, almost every production situation the Red goes into it performs quite well … with the exception of ultra low light. The capabilities that are coming out now are starting to really turn heads! It’s fairly common knowledge that the Mysterium-x sensor in the Epic hasn’t dominated the low light space. It has many many awesome features, but super low light hasn’t been it’s strong point.
As all of these new tweets, blogs, and videos started emerging with the A7s, my interest was grabbed and I had to know how the Red compared against the new breed! It’s not totally an apples to apples comparison because each camera has strong suites, and no camera (that I know of) is the best at everything. The Mysterium-x sensor is also many years old now. There have been some touting that Red’s Dragon sensor performs better in low light. I don’t own a Dragon camera or have immediate access to one, so for now I can’t say!
A very special thank you to Dave Dugdale for inviting me over to check out the Sony A7s and the GH4!
Check out the screencapture below to see the explanation of our process and my thoughts on how the cameras compare:
Below are some screenshots that will give you an idea of how these cameras compare in a low light environment!
Our setup was using a Tamron 24-70 F2.8 on the Red Epic and A7s (via metabones adapter) and the 12-35 F2.8 on the GH4. All cameras were set to 2800k. We used Dave’s iphone at full brightness to key his face and the rest of the room was dark.
Click on any images below to see a 1080p resolution version.
First up, let’s see how the cameras do at 1600 ISO
Red Epic, Red Gamma 3 at 1600 ISO
GH4 at 1600 ISO, natural picture profile, contrast at -3, sharpness -3
A7s, 1600 with Cine4
Red Epic, Redgamma 3, 3200 ISO
GH4, 3200 ISO
A7s, slog 3200
A7s Cine4, 3200 ISO
Epic, Redlogfilm 3200
So there we have our 1600 and 3200 ISO tests. Beyond this, I thought it would be worthwhile to check out how the A7s performs at very high ISOs. I feel like the sweet spot is right between 12800-25600. I feel comfortable shooting these ISOs and noise reducing if necessary, but truly they are phenomenal for how much low light they capture!
Epic Redlogfilm 12800
A7s Slog 12800
A7s Cine4 12800
You can see at this point the true gains the A7s has made in low light. Additionally worth noting, the highlight preservation on the A7s in SLOG mode is incredible! Especially in the next examples. It’s too bad that the only internal option for recording is 8 bit. 8 Bit and s-log can spell disaster in grading… with banding, compression artifacts and such. It’s best to have some kind of external recorder to take advantage of the slog recording option in most scenarios.
At this point, I just left the comparison between two different gamma options in the A7s. The Red only allows you to select 12800 ISO, and at this point it was just fun to see how far the A7S could be pushed.
A7s Cine4 25600 ISO
A7s, slog 25600 ISO
A7s, slog 51200 ISO
A7s, Cine4 51200 ISO
A7s slog 204800 ISO
A7s CIne 4 204800 ISO
A7s slog 409600 ISO
A7s cine4 409600 ISO
Truly the dynamic range of Slog gets shown off in these low light tests. The Cine4 option just didn’t hold the detail in the same manner!!
Stay tuned, also ahead:
Dynamic Range Test
Rolling Shutter Test
Run and Gun test
Such interesting times in which we live. Get your phones out, it’s time to start lighting!!
Super special thanks to Dave Dugdale at learningdslrvideo.com and Caleb Kohl at chlorofil.biz
We had a cool opportunity come up to shoot with fortune.com in the ever-growing New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins Colorado. New Belgium’s operation started in a basement with just a few machines, and now has scaled to over a business generating $190 million (in 2013). Their current setup is amazing, some days they’ll produce 250,000 bottles or more. Needless to say, automation, factories, and the Red Epic camera were a formula for some killer footage.
The primary goal of the shoot was to tell the origin of the Brewery from the perspective of CEO Kim Jordan. The tricky part was that all of this incredible backdrop of a massive working brewery was very noisy. I would love to have had the ability to shut operations down for 1 hour to do a quiet interview in one of the big open brewing areas… but that would be prohibitively expensive and not realistic. We chose to do the interview in Kim’s office where sound was easily controllable and just nail it with all of the b-roll footage.
We only had a half day of access to the facility, so we had to run light and small. I’m grateful to have had the talented Ian Chisolm along to help move gear for dolly setups and lights, when time was crunched!