I was invited to speak at VendAsta Technologies about the work I’ve done on 360 panoramas and video. It was really cool because I’ve talked dozens of times about photography and video but I’ve never given a full presentation about 360 panoramas.
At the pace of technology today. What’s stopping us from being able to download a 360-degree video into our brains in the future?
We’re getting there faster than you think.
“99% Preparation, 1% Pressing a Button” Ryan Jackson, staff photographer with the Edmonton Journal tells the stories behind his photos and gives tips and advice to students. Failure is always an opportunity to overcome obstacles and win. Sometimes people burn down bridges to see if you can swim across. Recorded in Victoria, BC at the Canadian University Press Conference on Jan. 12, 2012.
Ryan Jackson, multimedia photojournalist with the Edmonton Journal speaks on his “I Was There” music video, the need for multimedia journalists, trends in online video, trends in technology, and tips for student journalists to experiment with video at their papers. “Will cats save Journalism?…. I don’t have all the answers.” Recorded in Victoria, BC on Jan, 14, 2012.
You can find the GoogleDoc presentation at docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhf88d7p_549m8mxppf9
and more on my blog at punkoryan.com/training
This is Part 2 of my experience filming the Paul Brandt music video “I Was There”.
I spent about two months on this project. The first month was mainly pre-production, gear selection and testing, script-writing and preparing for the second month when we did most of the principal shooting.
Our first real day of shooting for the music video was Paul Brandt singing the actual song. I had filmed him singing in the recording studio in Nashville but I felt that we really needed him in a hockey rink with a guitar on the ice. Paul lives in Cochrane so Amanda and I arranged to get him on the ice for a couple hours.
When I said “a couple hours” I really meant it! Paul was extremely busy with his cross-Canada tour about to start so we only had him for two hours!
Amanda and I spent four hours setting up all of the lights, cameras and doing test footage. I had originally envisioned recoding Paul in multiple locations but in the end we only had time for three takes of him standing on the ice and three takes of him sitting.
No pressure!!!! Did I mention I was using a brand new hacked camera and had only shot one music video before?
I strongly believe in the 7P‘s: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
I had spent a month of non-stop research, writing, testing, planning, scripting and practice to ensure that nothing would go wrong. And thank God I did!
Paul Brandt was such a professional! He’s made nearly two dozen music videos before and knows what he’s doing. When editing the footage, Adam Kidd with Limbo Editing noticed that he tipped his guitar up and did the same moves at the exact same time for each take.
Paul was also just a super nice guy! He stopped to sign autographs and talk to any fans that came by. He didn’t have any kind of ego or image problem …. he didn’t need to! He already knew how to look good!
Back to the planning and preparation:
For the Paul Brandt “I Was There” music video I wanted the video quality to be as high as possible as it would be broadcasted on CMT, TSN and on the giant video screens at Rexall Place in Edmonton and the Saddledome in Calgary.
I did a ton of research and also tested a lot of gear before starting the project. I already had a Canon 5D Mark-II and 1D Mark-IV which are fantastic for video but also have some drawbacks.
- Canon D-SLR drawback #1 was Aliasing and Moire which are strange patterns that appear in objects like fences and nets and also in clothing like hockey jerseys. Since a music video about hockey would contain plenty of both I knew this would be a problem.
- Drawback #2 was the rolling shutter of the CMOS sensors on Canon D-SLRs. Basically D-SLR video looks great until you start moving the camera and then you get what is called a “jello effect” where the video looks weird. One rule with music videos is that the camera is ALWAYS moving.
- Drawback #3 was just that Canon D-SLR video looks like Canon D-SLR video. There’s nothing wrong with it but it seems like everyone is shooting with 5D Mark-II’s now and I can always tell when avideo is shot with one.
Then I learned about the Panasonic GH2 which is called “arguably the most aliasing-free, highest-resolution hybrid camera out there”
The best part is that a guy named Driftwood has hacked the firmware allowing you to shoot MUCH MUCH MUCH higher quality video.
How does it work? Basically the GH2 records standard 24 Megabit (Mbit) video out of the box. However the camera is capable of shooting over 170Mbit/sec video and also capturing Intraframe (also known as GOP1) where every frame of video is an individual still image instead of other codecs that only record full still images every few frames and then guess the frames in between.
I read reviews of how the hacked GH2 fared well against the $80,000 Arri Alexa and RED Camera. Not that it’s better than those cameras, but pretty damn amazing compared.
The aliasing-free GH2 solved Problem #1, the Intraframe codec produces much smoother motion which solved Problem #2 and the higher resolution and bitrate solved Problem #3.
The only drawbacks of the GH2 were:
- The sensor was half the size (a 2X crop instead of the 5D’s 1X full-frame sensor) so a 24mm lens would become a 48mm lens. It would also be harder to achieve the narrow depth of field look but would be easier to manually focus since I would have more depth-of-field.
- The smaller sensor produced more noise at high-ISOs compared to the Canon so I would need more light
- The extremely high quality 176Mbit/sec produced 1 gigabyte of video per minute and required expensive Sandisk 32GB Extreme SD cards. A 32GB card would only hold about 30 minutes of video therefore I had to buy five of these cards at $150/each. Of course the price dropped right after I bought them!
- The menus and functions of the GH2 weren’t as friendly as the Canon D-SLRs.
- Canon 24mm f1.4L
- Canon 50mm f1.2L
- Canon 85mm f1.8
- Canon 300 f2.8L IS
I wanted to light almost everything in the music video for maximum quality as well as dramatic effect.
As you can see from my portfolio I love to light my portraits and I also wanted a consistent look all through the video.
I used two Interfit Monstar lights with 48-inch Octoboxes for the main lights. For fill lights I used three 500 LED video lights I got from eBay.
I bad to bring hundreds of feet of power extension cords as there was only one power outlet in the whole arena!
Other gear I used was:
- Ikan VX7e 7″ HDMI HD monitor which was a HUGE help for manually focussing as well it has a false-colour exposure guide which helps prevent you from blowing out highlights.
- A wide matte box which helped block lens flare and also keep snow off of the lens. This item proved surprisingly necessary for filming with video lights.
- Kessler Pocket Dolly for short camera moves.
- Cinemover for longer camera moves.
- Libec tripod and Manfrotto 504HD video head.
- Cavision rails and shoulder mount
- Fader Neutral Density Filters. You always want to keep a 1/50th shutter speed with video so an ND filter helps you stop down the light so you can shoot at 1/50th shutter at f1.2 outdoors in the sunlight if you want.
- Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition 4TB RAID drive to deal with the massive 1GB per minute of video from the hacked GH2 cameras. I had the drive set to RAID1 so my data was backed up 2TB+2TB.
- 15″ Apple MacBook Pro i7 Quad Core for reviewing footage and converting the GH2 AVCHD footage into ProRes422 HQ. That meant for every minute of video I shot I would get 1GB original + 1GB converted ProRes422HQ video
Here is the end result. The next blog post will be about filming the characters.
This blog post is Part 1 of my experience filming the Paul Brandt “I Was There” Music Video for the Edmonton Journal. Later posts will cover filming the actual video. Today’s post is about traveling to Nashville to capture Paul recording the song.
Country music star Paul Brandt records the official theme song “I was there” for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tenn. on October 24, 2011. Journal photographer Ryan Jackson is shooting the official music video and will be traveling around Alberta for the next month capturing junior hockey players and fans.
So one day I go to work and ask one of my editors what my next project will be. “Your shooting a music video for the World Junior Hockey Championship….. oh and Paul Brandt is singing the song…. oh and you actually have a budget!” she says.
I was amazed! A few months earlier I had seen that the New York Times Magazine was creating music videos to go with stories and I thought that was so innovative… and now here I am with the same opportunity!
I had filmed the music video Pearson “Purity of Heart” and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
This was going to be a chance to really push my cinematic skills and create something cool.
The Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald were going to be official media sponsors of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship and our marketing heads and editors wanted to do something innovative and different.
The idea was that we would use the power and reach of the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald to get submissions for ideas and inspiration for Paul Brandt to write a song about hockey. The theme was to be “I Was There”
Chorus radio, which was another official sponsor would help pay for the recording of the song in Nashville and then they would get the song for their radio stations.
Hockey Canada helps pay for the music video and they get a theme song and theme music video to play before all of the World Junior Hockey Games.
The Edmonton Journal pays for me (through my normal salary) to spend two months working on the music video with the help of staff writer Amanda Ash.
The Journal owns the music video and gets exclusive behind the scenes photos, blog posts, tweets and stories for the paper.
A newspaper creating a music video is also very innovative and shows the Journal is pushing to become more than just a “snoozepaper”
Paul Brandt benefits by getting tons of promotion at the same time as his new album and concert tour begins.
Albertans and the Journal’s readers benefit through participation as we used crowd sourcing to help write the song and also find characters for the video.
Finally proceeds from the sales of the song went to a charity to help under privileged kids play hockey.
So the whole project was pretty win-win for everyone and I got to shoot a music video for the Edmonton Journal!
The following are some behind the scenes videos and photos from recording the song in Nashville. We didn’t end up using any of the footage of Paul in Nashville in the final music video for continuity sake. It was still worth going down there though to meet Paul and discuss ideas for the film.
A fun video reporter Amanda Ash shot of our travels in Nashville. Pretty cool.
Here is a short time lapse of Amanda Ash and I setting up the video lights for Paul Brandt.
The next blog post will cover filming the video.
Here is the final result
In October my wife Ashe and I went to New York for a week. It was exactly “like the movies”. An amazing experience.
A panoramic view from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City on Oct. 7, 2011. This image was created by stitching multiple images together. Panorama by Ryan Jackson, ryanjackson.ca
Click on the above image to view a 360-degree panorama from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Panorama by Ryan Jackson.
The panorama is HTML-5 compatible so it works on iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well. EXTRA cool with an iPhone 4G or iPad2 with gyro.
Here is a view from the top of 30 Rock at night.
Speaking of 30 Rock. Ashe and I went to see a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Ashe got on TV as a game contestant!
Ashe bought a lot of clothes and I went to the world’s biggest camera store, B&H Photo Video, and bought the crazy Canon 8-15mm Fisheye lens.
The Brooklyn Bridge with the Canon 8-15mm lens on a 5D Mark-II.
Ashe and I in Times Square.
I’m extremely honoured and humbled to have won 1st place team video of the year with former Journal reporter Ben Gelinas for my Brain-injured Comedian video in the annual News Photographers Association of Canada annual Pictures of the Year contest for 2010.
I also won third place single multimedia of the year for my first World Record Dodgeball video.
The event was held during the NPAC annual conference in Winnipeg. There were amazing speakers and fun times.
This is probably the longest I’ve ever gone without updating my blog. Though I did leave it on a high note.
February was a crazy month. It was my 28th birthday, My 360 Dodgeball video went viral, I had three new job opportunities open up for me, I was on cloud nine.
The night of my birthday I said to my good friend Kirk “you know things are going so good for me right now I’m afraid something bad is going to happen”
And then it did.
Guess I should have knocked on wood.
On February 12th, 2011 both of my parents were killed in a head-on collision in Saskatchewan. Ironically they driving back from a Funeral.
I had a freelance job that morning. I was exhausted from shooting the 360-video and I just had to do this one job and then I could go home and nap all afternoon.
I still had to mark my MacEwan student‘s assignments and I was dreading the hours of time that it would take.
Then the phone rang. The number was blocked and usually when call display says Blocked I just ignore it but this time I answered for some reason.
It was an RCMP officer calling me to say that my parents were in an accident and my mother had been killed, my father was in an ambulance heading to Saskatoon and wasn’t expected to make it.
It’s an indescribable feeling when you get a phone call like that. The world almost stands still. Everything slows down. I went into shock.
The officer needed a contact in Saskatoon that he could call. I was the first number on their cell phone so they called me first but I was in Edmonton.
My Father was in an ambulance on the way to Saskatoon and he needed someone to come meet him.
I couldn’t think so I immediately went on my laptop and went online to look up Phone numbers.
I started packing. If we left right away we could be at the hospital by midnight.
As I threw random clothes into a suitcase the RCMP officer called again. My father had just died in the ambulance.
Photography really helped me deal with this. It’s important to stay busy and have a purpose when you are going through tough times. I had two video cameras and mounted a remote camera at the back of the church. My good friend Liam Richards and Derek Mortensen were kind enough to setup a photo booth at the funeral. I’m sure a lot of people thought it was weird to have a photo booth but I wanted to have a visual record of everyone who was there. Something special. A funeral is a celebration of life.
I captured hundreds of pictures and panoramas of everything that happened in those crazy days and this helped me understand why I need photography in my life. It freezes a moment in time so you can properly reflect and process what it means.
A heart-broken Robot tries to escape the clutches of his moonshine-making Hillbilly imprisoner.
“Slow, subtle and direct – a mesmerizing Canadian sound”, “stark, calming, and mildly trance inducing lullaby-makers”, “Pearson has carved out a niche as a slow-core band — playing intimate, slow and sparse folk music.”
This was my first music video and the most fun I have ever had shooting. I actually shot this back in August 2009 and it took over a year to get it edited, coloured and EFx’d.
I was the Director of Photography so I took James’ awesome script and made storyboards and then shot everything. It was really fun to work with a director as I could focus on getting the shots and he could focus on directing and organizing everything. We made a good team.
The entire thing was shot in a day and a half! I drove in to Manitou Beach on Saturday morning. We started filming at noon and did all the scenes with the hillbilly as he could only be there on Saturday. Then we got everything else on Sunday and shot right until sundown. It was a miracle we had the same weather two days in a row and got everything done.
I shot everything with the Canon 5D Mark-II. It was actually my first time using one. My friend Kenny lent me his for the weekend. I read the manual and researched as much as I could before the shoot.
I knew that if I wanted the video to have a “film look” that I would need to:
1. Shoot at 24fps
2. Keep the shutter speed at 1/50th (2x the frame rate. On film cameras you shoot at 1/48th)
3. Shoot wide-open to get a narrow depth of field.
4. Use Neutral Density filters so that I could do #2. and #3. in bright sunlight.
I used my heavy Libec LS-38 tripod and head as much as possible and used a shoulder-mounted stabilizer whenever I needed to move.
For lenses I used a 50mm f1.4, 24mm f1.4, 16mm f2.8, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-105mm f4 IS, 70-200mm f2.8 IS and a 300mm f2.8 IS.
I bought two Cokin Neutral Density filters for a combined light reduction of 8-stops. This let me shoot 1/50, f1.8, ISO100 in bright sunlight.
Here are some fun behind the scenes photos. Enjoy!