Lights, Camera, Exercise.

Shooting a music video on the roof overlooking Rose-Hulman's football field.

Video production.

Although I was in media-related majors, I didn’t have production classes in college; I had basic shooting/editing projects in an Intro to Journalism class. This past weekend, I got to see and learn how Perfect Cut Productions produced a music video for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Sports and Recreation Center. I felt completely useless because I didn’t know how to assemble anything on set and would have hindered the crew further behind schedule, but that’s not what my job was anyways. Instead, I spent each day photographing behind scenes. I shot the crew at work and of their candid moments, images they could use for marketing/advertising purposes.

The whole crew: Nick Maudlin, Evan Richardson, Lorne Golman, Steve Mech, Michael Bennett and Alex Guevara.

Music, Red Bull and a blurry haze of exhaustion

Key elements needed for production sets that I learned: Red Bull, iPod/stereo, candy and chips. These provisions fueled the team for the 15-hour workdays and were much appreciated by everyone. Shout-out to Perfect Cut for the transportation, snacks and meals such as dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.

Sure, a music system of some sort is obvious for the set of a music video, but an upbeat, energetic and comical playlist helps heighten the crew’s work ethic and overall mood throughout the day especially when the days drag on and the tensions through exhaustion begin. If I could create a playlist for this post that would match what we rocked out to, I would. However, WordPress doesn’t have that sort of technology, I don’t think, so instead I’m going to include turquoise, italicized links for you to check out as you read to get an idea of what we used as motivation and inspiration.

Possible scene from "Silent Hill"

On the first day we drove up there, Friday the 17th, the entire drive seemed like we were in the movie, “Silent Hill,” because of the dense fog we tunneled through along the highway. Eerie.

The first day had scenes that included cool hand scanners, a faculty basketball game, Rose-Hulman’s elephant tusks circa 1959, the Vince Lombardi Trophy won by Super Bowl XLI Champions the Indianapolis Colts, elephant mascots and “Gators,” the men’s varsity locker room and finally a night-time jib shot of the building’s entrance at night complete with hyped students and Steve Mech, our talent for the video.

Night shot in front of the SRC.

The GoPro camera makes an underwater debut.

For Saturday morning, we started off with high dives at the pool. Lorne, the director, changed into his SCUBA equipment and shot Steve underwater. Steve, who was wearing weights, said, “I’ve always wanted to do this after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean,” and began walking underwater from a five-foot depth downwards to about eight feet.

“This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate so brave on the seven seas.” –Michael Bolton/The Lonely Island

Next came shooting a pick-up football game, the catwalk above a conference championship track meet, a fluid mechanical engineering lecture, cheerleader stunts and we finished on the roof overlooking the football field at night. I hope Steve conquered his fear of heights by this point. Before this night, I don’t recall ever seeing a silent and reflective group of guys. The roof, the football field, cold weather, a clear night sky and “Paradise” by Coldplay on blast makes for a humbling, thoughtful moment we got to experience both individually yet together.

Sunday was our final day of shooting—a frigid wind chill morning where we had to shoot outside in front of the SRC. Later we shot the weight room which included lifting weights and running on treadmills.

“I-I-I work out.” –LMFAO

We proceeded with shooting racquetball, karate, swing dancing and dance aerobics. Even with the usual down-time here and there, I feel like it was quite an active day.

Rose-Hulman's dance aerobics club dances to "Jai Ho."

Group critique.

Now to wrap up, I really enjoyed being on set and watching video magic happen, making new friends with the Perfect Cut team, and having access to basically wherever we wanted at Rose-Hulman’s SRC because it gave us really cool location/shot opportunities that I know will make this music video interesting and quite frankly AWESOME. Also, much thanks to Michael, Nick and Alex, the guys in the background who continuously assembled and disassembled the lights and hauled the equipment. Without them, we literally wouldn’t have gotten around, and I wouldn’t have such sweet lighting in my set photos.

Once Perfect Cut edits and completes the video, I’ll post it in another blog entry, so please be on the lookout for that.

And as always, go to my > Flickr < account for extra pictures, because you won’t want to miss them.

Side view of Rose-Hulman's Sports and Recreation Center.

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. . . Pt. 1

[Dot Dot Dot Part One]

It was the fourth of December and I was with some friends at a bar, The Bluebird, for Dot Dot Dot’s concert; I think I have seen about five of their shows on various occasions. Chicago-based Dot Dot Dot plays a set that includes original songs such as “All Be Alright,” “Smile” and “Stay,” and covers current and past hit songs like “Poker Face,” “Yellow,” “Footloose” and even Nintendo ditties; their punky stage style balances out their charming pop songs and personalities. Dot Dot Dot performed a great show, which paired nicely with a couple of blue Dirty Birds down the throat and a couple of good friends dancing along by my side.

During the concert, one of my friends had tweeted Dot Dot Dot and tagged me in the tweet as well. When Dot Dot Dot read it later, they approached me on Twitter for an opportunity to photograph their “winter formal”-themed show at The Bluebird on January 28, a show planned and pulled together since. [Plog coming soon]

Friends enjoying 15 cent beers at The Bluebird.

In preparation for that show, although I will mainly be taking fan portraits, I went to The Bluebird to see Dot Dot Dot again to basically practice photographing inside the venue and check how my Sony DSLR works with the rapid, colorful changes of stage lighting. Luckily they had a show January 11 before the winter formal, and it fell on a day of two friends’ 21st birthdays and they both wanted to go to the concert. Also, it was on a Wednesday and no one can beat 15 cent domestic beers!

And so I went to the show and chatted with my friends and photographed the band. I always feel like I have a “warming up” period of shooting where I am adjusting to the environmental conditions and testing out various methods of shooting such as longer exposures, fast-action speeds, etc. For me, this shoot was experimental and new.

Little Lisa.

Concerts are difficult to photograph because of many factors: the stage, the lights, the fog machines, the crowd and the angles of everything. The Bluebird is dark and dimly lit but has overpowering, bright, saturated stage lights. In order to switch it up I took photos at various spots surrounding the stage, including from the room that looks onto the stage, the middle, elevated platform, and atop benches against the walls. I was not going to barge my way and intrude upon anyone that drunkenly claimed their territories by mounting themselves front and center of the stage. But for the second set that Dot Dot Dot played, one kind person moved and offered me his spot at the front brink of the stage, where I was able to capture photographs directly under Little Lisa as she kicked in her knee-high boots.

It takes as much preparation to plan to get shots or it is just luck. When I say preparation, I mean everything from charging batteries ahead of time and bringing extra memory cards, knowing how the lights will move and change at certain parts of certain songs, to seconds-before-the-action-knowing what apertures and shutter speeds to set for predicting a performer’s physical movements. Since I am mainly photojournalistic in how I shoot, it works to my advantage in this case because I know I do not have control over the elements of the scene, much like in photojournalism, and that is where I am beginning to see the difference between photojournalism and photography. Concerts are tricky to shoot, but working around variables adds to the challenge and the fun of shooting performances.

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> More DOT DOT DOT photos on Flickr <