Over the past few months, I’ve been doing what most people need to do to survive- work.
I’ve done some pretty cool jobs though, so it hasn’t been all that boring. Shortly after landing back in the States, I shot the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting, and I have shot a few other random events for the Clinton Foundation, which I think is pretty cool being able to come back and freelance every once in a while.
A big project that I was involved with for them was the Clinton Health Matters Initiative Conference’s videos- essentially panel introduction videos that highlight a specific aspect of the programmatic work of the initiative. My job was to produce from start to finish, videos that would show before the panel discussions and highlight either a past pledge and where it is now, or an aspect of the work of the initiative and where it stands. All in all, it was neat to be back in the production seat, and allowed me to get my creative juices going for the corporate audience.
I worked on a few things with the Global Poverty Project. I shot stills with them in Central Park in the fall of 2012 at their annual Global Citizen Concert, and jumped right back in the seat for a few video things with them. I shot an event in San Francisco for Media Matters, a non-profit that is part of Truth Matters, which basically attempts to fact-check what political pundits say on air, and if it is incorrect or stated in a way that can be misrepresented, their job is to influence the message to be correct. On the other side of the spectrum, I shot an event in DC for Americans for Reform, a think-tank to push immigration reform, and influence the direction which that is going. That was neat because it was both photo and video- stills of representatives from around the country speaking to their congressional delegates, and video that was produced for social media outlets of entrepreneurs who believe in reforming America’s immigration hurdles. It was neat to see so many different people in such a short amount of time from both sides. As of late, I did a few jobs in New York, again working for the Manhattan DA’s people on their events, as well as shooting a Super Bowl party for Honeywell with all sorts of big names in sports there.
For video, seeing the opposite side of everything in the industry is cool too. I got the chance to work for Logan NYC, a production house that creates tv commercials and special effects for Hollywood movies, on versioning out a Clinique commercial. Essentially it is the worst thing you could possibly imagine- every commercial that is produced has different versions for different markets: these versions are part of the final delivery, and let’s say that there is a 15 second spot and a 30 second spot. Clinique happens to be (apparently) kind of demanding, and they want 50 bagillion different formats of the different versions of the commercial.
Here is an example of the commercial that I found on Sephora’s YouTube channel- it’s the American, Caucasian model, clean TV 30sec version:
Calculated out, there is the American market, the Canadian market, the French Canadian market, the Spanish market, the Asian market (in both 24 and 25 fps, presumably for Japan’s NTSC, and everywhere else’s PAL), and the UK market. Lots of regions to cover, all with differing frame rates, audio, graphics, and whatever else you can imagine. It was my job to come in, work with the producers on final edits with the clients, and piece all of these together for final delivery. All in all, after dealing with all of the codecs, frame sizes, frame rates, bit rates, and what-have-you, there were maybe 600 files to be delivered. Good thing I always pay specific attention to the bible (Wikipedia, codecs) about this very complicated stuff. This project was great, but it just further solidified my opinion that the world of broadcast video is just a complete disaster. More on that later.
I also managed to not be a sucker and get caught in what is seemingly back to back to back to back to back… (need I go on) polar vortexes, and have been in California for the past month. It’s great, but I’m not sure LA is for me. I am, and probably always will be the kind of person who likes to stumble out of his apartment and roll into a bodega or a coffee shop and get whatever I want. It’s part of framing your life that works for your pleasure, which I was recently introduced to by my friend James. Reconfiguring your life to work for you is important- I have managed to, all within the past year, leave what was seemingly the best job on earth, work for four months, travel the remaining amount of time to do what I enjoy doing which is shooting pictures, and almost completely decouple myself from “The Grid”. I have a permanent address in Manhattan where I can receive checks and mail that is scanned and emailed to me or remotely deposited, I have a permanent 212 Manhattan phone number that I can be reached at by being called, calling from, or texting to or from anywhere in the world, unlimitedly at no additional charge, for no more than $30 a month, for ever and ever (yes, this is real), and I have a business in Wyoming (wtf?) to ensure that moving forward, I am not a sucker, and am more aggressive than Mitt Romney at paying (or not paying) taxes. LA, car culture, or better yet, what is seemingly just American Culture, is nice, but you have to be into it. Speaking of car culture, I joined the club:
I am a compete sell out. I bought a 1985 Toyota FJ60, which seems like the dumbest thing ever to do if you were brave enough to read the last paragraph, but in my mind this is not so much a car, but rather a tool to get the job done correctly- it’s also easy as hell to work on. I plan to again, take some time off from the corporate world and travel, and this time, around the Great American West, continuing my photo blogging and doing jobs here and there. Starting out, I’ll be heading up the coast with a friend of mine from back home, Mackie- this dude is an “expert seat of the pants pilot”, so I think for him a couple of weeks of camping up the California and Oregon coasts will be a piece of cake.
Keeping with The Real Method, I scored one of these off of eBay recently: a Fuji GW690.
Essentially it is an oversized rangefinder camera that shoots medium format 6x9cm negatives. It still gives the same aspect of 2x3 as a 35mm piece of film, or in current day terminology, what’s known as a “full-frame camera” (read through to nerd out here- or perhaps change your entire perspective on digital cameras, and why the world is sold ten thousand-and-one things it doesn’t need) but in negatives that capture essentially 6.25 times the amount of information as oldschool 35mm, and you have all of the wild films to use. For simplicity this go around, I chose to use Kodak’s Ektar 100, a daylight film that yields high contrast and highly saturated colors. It probably won’t be like good old wild-eyed Velvia 50, but it is too cost-prohibitive to shoot E-6 film these days. The color negatives I can process myself and then scan. It’s safe to say that assuming my dummy self can get the pictures in focus, properly expose them, and process them correctly, the technical image quality will be unparalleled.