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Advertising Award!

collegiate ad award

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.

collegiate ad award

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!

Exciting stuff!!

DJI Ronin and Atlas Support BTS

DJI Ronin Atlas Support

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.

DJI Ronin Atlas Support

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!

Original post http://www.learningdslrvideo.com/dji-ronin-atlas-2-rod/

The Stable by André

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.59.44 AM


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.

Client: Andre

Fort Lewis College

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 9.41.54 AM

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

Sprinter grip truck in durango

sunset durango frisbee

photo credit: Hannah Drake


Biology Class

durango drive

On the way to Durango, the drive is beautiful

staged football game

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!
James Drake
Hannah Drake
Caleb Kohl
Ian Chisolm
Lindsay Nyquist
and many more volunteers!

Carlton Landing


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.

Brahma Brims


This is a 30 second Brahma Brims tv commercial for an upcoming hard hat accessory:

Brahma Brims – The Beginning from James Drake on Vimeo.

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.

Directed, shot, edited on location in Wyoming by the James Drake Films team.

Sony A7s vs Epic and GH4 Low Light

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

1600 ISO

Red Epic, Red Gamma 3 at 1600 ISO

Red Epic, Red Gamma 3 at 1600 ISO

GH4 1600 low light

GH4 at 1600 ISO, natural picture profile, contrast at -3, sharpness -3

Sony A7s, 1600 with Cine4

A7s, 1600 with Cine4

3200 ISO

Red Epic, Redgamma 3, 3200 ISO

Red Epic, Redgamma 3, 3200 ISO

GH4, 3200 ISO

GH4, 3200 ISO

A7s, slog 3200

A7s, slog 3200

A7s Cine4, 3200 ISO

A7s Cine4, 3200 ISO

Epic, Redlogfilm 3200

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!

ISO 12800

Epic Redlogfilm 12800

Epic Redlogfilm 12800

A7s Slog 12800

A7s Slog 12800

A7s Cine4 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.

ISO 25600

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 Cine4 25600 ISO

A7s, slog 25600 ISO

A7s, slog 25600 ISO

And beyond….

A7s, slog 52000

A7s, slog 51200 ISO

A7s, Cine4 51200 ISO

A7s, Cine4 51200 ISO

A7s slog 204800 ISO

A7s slog 204800 ISO

A7s CIne 4 204800 ISO

A7s CIne 4 204800 ISO

A7s slog 409600 ISO

A7s slog 409600 ISO

A7s cine4 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

New Belgium Brewery Shoot

lots of bottles at the brewery

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!

Video will be posted soon as it is released.

new belgium brewery red epic

new belgium brewery bottles

new belgium brewery

new belgium warehouse

brewery red epic dolly

photo 1 (1)

Red Epic Tutorial

It’s been a while since Dave Dugdale and I made this Red Epic Tutorial (we shot in January of 2012), but I was reminded by a friend that almost all of the information is still relevant and useful. If you’re looking into how to use the Red Epic or Scarlet on an upcoming shoot, check out the video below as we walk through menus, functions, and features!

At the time of this writing, the video is approaching 90,000 views! Thanks for checking it out and let me know if you have new Red questions!

In recent months, Dave and I also did a comparison of the Red Epic MX camera against the new Panasonic GH4, and have found the results to be pretty impressive. Check out that camera comparison and we hope it will help you make good decisions on your gear!

Red Epic vs. GH4 – Camera Comparisons

Red and Gh4 interview setup

The Red Epic and the Panasonic GH4. How do they compare?

A (now) $20,000ish Red body against a $1700 newly released Panasonic mirrorless camera that fits in your hand…

Dave Dugdale over at learningdslrvideo.com posted a comparison he was doing with the GH4 and my thought was, “is this a good B-camera for the Red.” So, with my simple “real world run and gun” methodology, we tested. (In case you’re wondering, Dave and I have done a few other Red camera tests together)

Before we jump into some tests I think it’s worth mentioning that the Mysterium-X sensor is 3 or 4 years old now, which is ANCIENT in technology and computer terms (which sadly cameras basically are wrapped into now). 


We’ve been marketed resolution details from every camera company East to West. It was a big factor in helping the newly formed Red Digital Cinema company get established in the industry, so we’ll start here.

The Panasonic is very impressive. At 24 fps, it appears to be the same amount of resolution as the Red 5k downrezed to 4k with a touch of sharpening. It’s almost impossible to see aliasing on the GH4, which is a big plus! It is very sharp with no modifications. In fact, we had the sharpness dialed down to -5 on the camera to appear being “too crispy”. The image below was shot in color but posted in black in white to draw the eye to the actual image detail. Trees are often a nightmare to shoot at small apertures, so naturally this was a good test for us to challenge the cameras.

Gh4 and Red epic sharpness resolution

Gh4 and Red Epic Resolution and Sharpness Test. Desaturated in post, no sharpening added.

You can click on the image above for a full 4096×2160 look. The Epic was down sampled from 4800×2700 to match the 4096 frame. This was intentional, in that I believe this to be Red’s intent in giving “more” resolution with their system in the first place. Providing a “5k” resolution system with the ability to sample down to 4k was the standard method to increase overall resolution, that’s my reasoning behind downsampling the Epic footage to match.

To my eye, the image above, the GH4 looks sharper. For the next look, with the same image, I applied sharpening in Adobe Premiere CC to the Red footage (as we tend to do a lot on Red footage anyway).

gh4 and red epic sharpness resolution test

GH4 and Red Epic, Sharpness added to Epic

Now, it appears the Epic is sharper. When dealing with such high resolution, the computer has enough information to make some very intelligent decisions on how and what to sharpen.

Out of pixel peeping mode and into the real world for a moment… Resolution-wise, the GH4 definitely meets the spec of running as a B-cam for the Red.


Now, onto a pseudo run and gun interview setup to see how they’d match color and look wise. For these tests, the Red was matched to the GH4 look out of camera. We tried 2 looks out of the GH4, the CineD look and the Natural look.

GH4 cineD interview look

GH4 cineD interview look straight out of camera

GH4 Natural Look

GH4 Natural Look straight out of camera

Between the two, the best looking option is definitely the natural setting. The cineD setting makes skin look plastic, and the color shifts seems unnatural. With limited knowledge on setting up the profiles of this camera, there could be a setting we missed but it seems like Dave really covered his bases when looking into the profiles. His intent all along was to shoot natural, but I wanted to test the cineD profile in tandem to double check.

Below is the two cameras stacked next to each other in “A” and B” setups. The tonality differences of the camera come out mildly, but straight out of camera it isn’t a huge leap between the two. Notice the depth of field difference on the “b-setup” with same aperture and focal length.

Red and Gh4 interview setup

Red and Gh4 interview setup

B camera Gh4 Red Epic depth of field look

Gh4 and Epic B camera angle. notice the depth of field

Slow Motion

Anything 24fps the Panasonic GH4 handles quite well. However when switching to 96fps at 1080p, we found there to be a sudden quality drop. There seems to be too much motion blur in the GH4 96 fps, as you can see below in the video and still.

GH4 96fps 1080p and Red Epic 5k

GH4 96fps 1080p and Red Epic 5k 96fps. Notice the motion blur difference


From our basic tests, I think it’s pretty conclusive… as a general B-camera, the GH4 can really step in as a nice sub-$2000 addition to a Red users kit, under a few conditions. It seemed from our tests very easy to match the Red to the GH4, but there are looks that you can pull in the Redcode that are difficult to match exactly on the GH4. Don’t go out shooting without testing… as always. But it seems the natural profile on the GH4 is a good “HD” look match to the Red Epic. The GH4 wins in that it is a tiny tiny camera. For covert or ultra-light shoots, it wins. For big travel, it wins for sure. On top of that, with the myriad of cheap handheld gimbal systems coming to market, the lightweight GH4 will take great advantage of these. I’d say, if you’re in need of a B-Cam, this is a great system.

However…. it’s probably worth waiting to see the Sony A7S in action. That comparison will be coming very soon. Stay tuned!

Dave Dugdale will be posting his extensive review of the GH4 soon, keep your eyes out for it!

A huge special thank you to Caleb Kohl of chlorofil.biz and Ian Chisolm for helping us with these tests!

Update: Dave and I tested the GH4 with a metabones speedbooster, which essentially transforms the micro 4/3 sensor into the size of a s35 sensor. There’s an EF version of this speedbooster coming out soon, so it looks like we will be able to easily swap EF glass on shoots with Red’s and GH4, yet another factor to consider for those mini 2nd unit pieces!

 Behind the Scenes

Dave Dugdale, Gh4 tests Red Epic stacked Gh4 photo 3

Dead Broke Music Video

Written by Doc Jones, One Eleven Band
Directed- Seth Schaeffer of Hoptocopter.com
DP/Produced- James Drake Films
Lead Actor- Michael Nicely
Music Arrangement/Mix- Danny Odom
Camera Operator- Wade Yamaguchi
Grip/Gaffer Team- Cory Reynolds, Mark Walczak
Shot on location in Las Vegas.

Powerful lyrics for a powerful message:

Used to stay stoned, no rock in the face
you talking about church, no habla ingles
they say sex sells, guess that means sin pays
then why you got eviction coming in 10 days?
Dead broke fast spending like renting a fake smile
2 days and 3 hours away from a break down
A few pills chase the pain til sunrise
returning with a vengeance leaving your tongue tied
staring in the mirror who’s that can’t recognize
still faded seeing double, no better with second eyes
fighting something don’t exist like tekken 5
place blame on them when it’s really myself and I
Diggin my own grave like a slave to my own mind
examine my chest for a heart you won’t find
Rock bottom got a problem somebody throw me a line
Lord send me a sign!
Feels like my soul is dead broke
Man you wouldn’t know cause i don’t let it show
But my soul is dead broke,
I got no where to go, where’s the Lord when I call?
On your knees praying our father, hands clasping
head down like why bother? still waiting
prayers go unanswered, speaking to the air, no ears
why chance it? Control like a puppet
No Jim Hanson so you sold to the devil for a hefty ransom
feeling lost in a mansion
But really it’s a prison, product of wicked living
tracing back steps Sundays and catechism
Now it’s sundays and strip clubs,
bought a one way ticket
where sin has faced conviction
no hope for a wretch like me
need a neo-soul
Sounds like confessions from a broken down phone booth
Does God check voicemail?
I’m about to make my own news
Swinging straight held down
by your demons
Dead broke and pain free
Feels like my soul is dead broke
Man you wouldn’t know cause i don’t let it show
But my soul is dead broke,
I got no where to go, where’s the Lord when I call?
Don’t listen to those lies, shady schemes from the serpent
Appetite for destruction, Like a lion he is lurking
He would take your soul to you to eternal fires
Separated from your Father, it’s time to face the giant
Fight back and get on your knees say if you’re real right now
I really need to know, won’t you please take these pills away from me
Because I can’t do it on my own
Lord I surrender hands raised to the throne
Son I always was with and always will be
so put that rope down I came to give peace
It hurts that it took this long to realize
I would have spoke sooner, you had a veil over your eyes
Unable to see the glorious light that is I
The Christ illuminated in darkness must hide
it’s time to you’re all mine I’m depositing my spirit
I’m never dead broke again
Never will my soul,
Be dead broke
I’m sure will know cause I’m gonna let it show
Never will my soul
be dead broke
I’ve got somewhere to go I hear the Lord when I call
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil. For you are with me, your rod, your staff they comfort me

Devante’s Story – Save Our Youth

Save Our Youth Documentary

Save Our Youth is a faith-based organization. It is their mission to transform the lives of at-risk youth through mentor relationships, providing the skills for success in educational, emotional, and spiritual development.

I’ve been blessed to have worked with them over the past few years and have made various commercials, documentaries, and testimonies based on the incredible mentoring work they do. Visit their website at saveouryouth.org

This project was shot on the Red Epic in a rapid fire “run and gun” style intentionally to keep the piece always moving, never grounded. The script and story behind the project were developed over 3 months, including pre-interviews, concept writing, and many meetings. One of the challenges of this piece was visualizing Devante’s past of fighting in school while being restricted to a short block of time at the school after the students had left. I also didn’t want to recreate a “fight scene”, so much as capture the reason why Devante was fighting, which was tied to loneliness and his struggle. When introduced to his mentor, things began to change in Devante’s life. One really cool angle on this story that didn’t make it into the edit was Devante’s success as a basketball player in the past few years. Since his time with Gary, his mentor, Devante has been consistently attending basketball practice and his 8th grade middle school team won the championship game this year in March. Not only did they win the game, but they won the game in typical old-fashioned movie style… with 3 seconds on the clock, down 2 points, and at the buzzer, a boy on his team hit the 3 pointer. Check out the picture below that shows the scoreboard and the young man on Devante’s team about to hit the winning 3! We were there to capture the whole thing. Originally we thought it would put the capstone on Devante’s success story. As it turns out, Gary was unable to make it and in the 3 minute window we had for this piece, we decided that honing in on Gary and Devante’s story was critical, so that was the route that we shaped the edit with. However, we’ll always remember how Devante’s team won in the last seconds of his 8th grade year…. Very symbolic of his success, and the great work Save Our Youth does all the time.

Game winning 3 pointer, the knights win by 1 at the buzzer.

Game winning 3 pointer, the knights win by 1 at the buzzer.