Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Prepping for the PGS DVD Production

Not quite as hot in my neck of LA's woods today. It's still freakin' hot but doesn't seem quite as hot as it was, if you get what I'm saying.

I'm not sure of the actual temps today but I'm convinced they're slightly less than what they've recently been. I believe this because the A/C in my car seems to be making a bigger dent in the heat.

It's not that there's anything wrong with the A/C in my ride, there's not, but sometimes, like yesterday and the day before, it was so damn hot the A/C really worked overtime battling the oppressive, triple-digit, heat. It might not have been Phoenix-heat or Vegas-heat or Death Valley-heat but it was brutal, brain-poaching heat, nonetheless.

And not the (supposedly) easier-to-endure "dry heat" either. Humidity has been between 25% and 50%. Very un-Southern-California-like

It still is. Just seems more bearable today.

I'm sitting in my favorite, free-WiFi, coffee joint writing this update. Instead of my usual cup o' Joe, I opted for an iced coffee.

Hey! Just trying to add a little color to the narrative of this update, okay? I'm not out of touch with the theme of this blog. My brain wasn't actually poached. I know no one gives a shit what kind of coffee I'm drinking or where I'm drinking it. I'm just saying... Is that alright?


I had to get out of the house. Not that the A/C in the house wasn't working well enough. It was. But by the time the clock was heading towards 4 P.M., I knew I'd had enough. I could sense an attack of cabin fever percolating! I'd been sitting, since really early in the really early morning, like a web-zombie, in front of my computer. Mostly, I was working on stuff for this weekend's shoot and for another, unrelated, upcoming shoot.

Today's work was mostly focused on casting and crewing-up and logistics for Sunday's PGS DVD shoot, as well as the other one. The unrelated one. In between that work, I was also Twittering about this and that and answering phone calls and emails and being half-aware of the TV providing noise in the background.

So, before (figuratively) losing my cool, I showered, dressed, headed out the door, jumped in my car and, well, here I am. Sitting with my iced coffee typing keyboarding a blog update in the get-outa-the-house environment of It's A Grind.

How was that for a droll preface to this post?

Yeah. Bored the bejesus outa me too.

We're shooting the first segment of the PGS DVD this Sunday. We're also shooting part of a commercial spot for our principal sponsor, Innovatronix, Inc. Like an idiot, I decided to shoot this stuff in the desert... the Mojave Desert... in July.

Not just in the desert, but on a dry lake bed in the desert.

BTW, there's a reason the lake is dry--it's been that way for, I don't know, maybe centuries or more--and it has a lot to do with how hot it's going to be out there this Sunday.

El Mirage Dry Lake is near Victorville, California. Hollywood producers use El Mirage as a location often enough. It's like a mini-Bonneville salt flat. There's nothing much there. Not much flora or fauna to speak of. It's just flat and dry and sandy and, in the summer, it's really hot.

Back in the day, I used to work for an aerospace/defense contractor as their shooter and filmmaker. We often used to test one of the company's products out there at El Mirage: a stealthy, airborne, RPV (Remotely Piloted Vehicle) that launched from a catapult and carried spy-gear on board: Stuff like FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) and conventional video and other exotic stuff that I'm still probably not supposed to talk about. Once the RPV was aloft, I'd climb into the chase plane, a Cessna 152 piloted by a retired USAF fighter-jock, which took off and landed on a bumpy dirt road adjacent to the dry lake. Once in the air, we would give chase!

They would pull the passenger door off the Cesna and tether me to something or other inside the cabin. I'd sit or crouch, sideways, and hang out the doorway, my legs sometimes dangling in the air, and shoot stills and video of the RPV as it flew above, below, and beside us.

It was fun!

Until the day we had a near-miss with an F-16 flying out of George AFB in nearby Victorville. The day El Mirage nearly became the site of my untimely demise.

Do you know what it feels like to be in a Cessna 152 while you're half hanging out the door and the jet wash from a near miss with an F-16 slams into the little, propeller-powered, single-engine plane as a fighter jet screams by from really, really, too close of a distance? When a small, two-seater Cessna suddenly loses about 500 feet or more of altitude in a few seconds?

Trust me. You don't wanna know.

BTW, not only was I tethered to the Cessna, but the cameras were tethered to me. If not, I definitely--besides nearly dropping one in my pants--would have dropped one or both cameras out of the plane. It took a few days or so for my ears to recover and my hearing (and heartbeat) to return to normal.

Back on topic...

To this hot and barren landscape, I'm going to bring a couple of equally-hot, tho probably not barren, models and an intrepid crew. Hopefully, no one heat strokes out on us. We'll have plenty of hydrating fluids, a couple of canopies to make some shade, food, and enough sunscreen to coat everyone's skin as often as they need it.

Part of the day, we'll be shooting the commercial spot. Should be fun! It's gonna include a female model playing what else? A female model. Also, we'll have a male actor who will be playing--yep, you guessed it--a photographer. (D'uh.) As a matter of fact, our actor playing the photographer actually is a photographer! How's that for type-casting? We'll be shooting the commercial spot footage out on the dry lake bed. Lots of high-speed moving shots from one vehicle to another, shooting with a camera mounted to the on-camera vehicle, and more. Leastwise, that's the plan.

The tag-line for the spot for Tronix's portable power gear is "Suddenly, the world becomes your studio!" Yeah. I know. Nikon uses a similar line in some of their print advertising. Screw them. I'm a Canon guy! And no, I'm not ripping off Nikon. I didn't even know about Nikon's use of a similar phrase, which is different than ours, when I wrote the words into our script. GMTA, I guess. (Assuming there's "great minds" at Nikon... j/k.) Besides, Nikon doesn't own those words. Certainly not similar words. And they definitely don't own me or my script-writing endeavors! (Altho I guess I could be for sale, for the right price.)

When we're not shooting the spot, we'll be shooting a segment for the PGS DVD. This segment, as you probably already figured out, will focus on exterior, daylight, location shooting. Besides talking about working with models, we'll be demonstrating the use of portable lighting, portable power, selecting and using modifiers, plus the use of reflectors and scrims that are appropriate to the location and time of day. We might even demo the use of a silk.

This ain't gonna simply be a talking-heads-in-a-studio instructional DVD. Yeah, there's gonna be some "talking heads" parts in it, but there's also gonna be more. Much more!

Alrighty then. I better get back to work. I still haven't cast this production. I've had over 50 hot models respond to my casting notice and it's tough whittling them down to two, pretty girls.

Speaking of pretty girls, the pretty girl at the top is my pal, Kori, from a couple of years ago. I shot the pic, you guessed it, out at El Mirage Dry Lake using available, late-afternoon, golden-hour sunlight. It was hot out there on that day too! I think I was way heavy-handed in post back then, especially with pushing the colors too hard. But since then, I've grown. As a PS processor. Honestly. I have. I think.


MonkeyMetal said...

JimmyD, I think this is your longest blog post ever.

Frank Wise said...

any time you need someone to hold a reflector, run cable, or hook their 5D MKII to a car hood, you let me know.

As long as your shooting in a comfortable, environmentally controlled studio.

Done a lot of work out in El Mirage and love it there. Can't wait to see your DVD. If and when you need/want a pulpit to pitch your DVD to eager yearning/questing for knowledge students, let me know, we'll roll out the red carpet for ya.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward for that DVD and the first trailers?, clips, sneak preview's?

i'm in to location photography too with my studio heads, the first time i read about it on your blog i orded one for my 2x400 w/s Elinchrome heads.

the money i saved on this solution is now spend on glass.

Ik like the rich colors btw.

Thanks for sharing
Greetz from Holland 23°C

jimmyd said...

@Monkey Metal,

Re long post: Maybe the iced coffee has more caffeine than the hot coffee?


Definitely, at some point, will be posting some teasers, trailers, etc. Probly start with some still photos from the shoot. I'll have some stills next week.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm how cool would it be to have a F-16 flying in your pretty girl photoshoot :D?...although without getting near sound speed, I have seen the damage of what the sonic boom can do :/... hmmm well scrap the F-16 and bring the Cessna! :D

YAY to the DVD :D! please do some teasers and trailers :D!!

Wishing you the best!


Lou said...

I'm stoked to see what you guys come up with for the Tronix stuff, and the PGS DVD stuff. Both are definitely intriguing-sounding.

And I dunno about "longest post ever", but longest including randomness. :D

Damion009 said...

awsome blog man!!!